Policy Title

Public Comment Policy

Statement

This policy determines the parameters within which the Winthrop Board of Trustees will receive input from the citizens of South Carolina.

Scope

This policy applies to anyone interested in making public comments at meetings of the Winthrop Board of Trustees.

Policy Number:1.1.2
Effective Date:07/12/2021
Date Reviewed:
Last Review Date:
Responsible Official: Kimberly Faust VP/Secretary, Board of Trustees
Responsible Office: Office of the President
Contact Information:

Office of the President

Definitions

1.0 Specific meanings of bolded terms seen throughout this policy can be found within the University’s Policy Definitions Glossary by following the link below.

1.1 http://www.winthrop.edu/policy-definitions-glossary/

1.2 Agenda is a list of matters to be discussed at a meeting.

1.3 Public Comment Input given by the public to governmental bodies, about current or future issues, during a period—and by means—set aside and prescribed by policy.

1.5 Board the group of people selected in accordance with SC Code of Laws §59-125-20 et seq. to oversee the governance of Winthrop University.

1.6 Winthrop community a group of people connected to the campus who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, similar situation or shared values. The Winthrop Community includes but is not limited to students, alumni, staff, faculty, retired personnel, and other interested stakeholders.

1.0 General


The Winthrop Board of Trustees has no obligation, legal or otherwise, to allow citizens to address the body during Board meetings. However, as a courtesy and at the discretion of the Chairperson, Public Comment may be made prior to the start of the meeting. When permitting Public Comment, the Board of Trustees will allow citizens an opportunity to make the body aware of issues not yet resolved or to express a viewpoint concerning business before the Board.


2.0 Public Comment opportunities


2.1 A public comment period may be included prior to the start of the regular meetings of the Winthrop Board of Trustees prior to the start of the business meeting.


2.2 There will be no public comment period prior to special Board of Trustees meetings, retreats, workshops, or committee meetings, unless otherwise specified by the Board.


2.3 Members of the public are welcome to submit written comments to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees for dissemination to Trustees.


3.0 Public Comment Presenters


3.1 Anyone wishing to make a presentation to the Board during the public comment period must register at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance and do so in accordance with the related procedures section of this policy.


3.2 Materials and Media Presentations to the Board


3.2.1 Materials and Media Presentations to the Board are not allowed during the public comment period of meetings.


3.2.2. Anyone wishing to submit printed materials should do so directly to the Secretary of the Winthrop Board of Trustees.


3.2.3 Electronic Media Presentations may also be submitted to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees but may be restricted to certain types of presentation formats.


3.2.4 Any electronic files or devices will be screened by security devices prior to delivery to the recipient.


3.3 Speakers should, at all times, maintain proper decorum and shall make their comments in a civil manner.


3.4 The Chair of the Board of Trustees, in his or her sole discretion, may choose to refuse to allow a member of the public to speak during the public comment section if that person has violated section 3.3 of this policy in prior interactions with the Board of Trustees or other members of the Winthrop community.


4.0 Trustee interaction with speakers


4.1. Public comment is intended to provide community feedback to Trustees.


4.2 A designated leader can speak on behalf of a particular group and collectively make one joint public comment.


4.3 Public Comment is not intended to require Trustees to answer impromptu questions. Speakers should expect the trustees to refrain from engaging in a dialogue, except to the extent necessary to clarify the speaker’s position.


4.4 Each speaker will be given an allotted time to give his or her public comments. Speakers may not go over their allotted time given or delegate time to other speakers. The Chair, at his or her sole discretion, may choose to allow a group representative a longer period of time during the public comment period.


4.5 Speaking from the podium is the method used to address the Board during the public comments period. The Board will not entertain questions or comments called out from the audience.


4.6 The Board will not take action on an item presented during public comment. When appropriate, the Board may refer inquiries and items brought up during public comment to the University President for follow-up.


5.0 Prohibitions


The following types of comments are prohibited:


Political speakers, or their representatives, are prohibited from making public comments in order to campaign for office or reelection.


Commercial speakers are prohibited from making public comments in order to sell or advertise various forms of information or items.


Comments on personnel matters are prohibited during public comment.


Personal attacks will not be tolerated. No person will be allowed to make obscene, derogatory, or slanderous remarks.


No materials or signs may be distributed or used during the meeting.


Other than by law enforcement personnel in their official capacity, no weapons are allowed on the Winthrop campus.

1.0 Public Comment Period

1.1 The Board may entertain public comment for a period up to thirty (30 minutes) prior to the start of the official meeting.


2.0 Applying to speak during the public comment period.

2.1 If a citizen wishes to address the Board of Trustees at its regular Board meeting, the individual must complete the “Request to Address the Winthrop Board of Trustees Form” (Form) provided via the link in the forms section in this policy.

2.2 The Form must be submitted to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled opening of the meeting at which it is requested to speak. If a form is submitted within 24 hours of the meeting, the presenter may not be allowed an opportunity to speak.

2.3 The presenter must state the general topic on which he or she will be speaking and the position they will take with respect to the topic, e.g. for or against.


3.0 Process for speaking during public comment.

3.1 Commenters should arrive early and check-in with the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, or his or her designees.

3.2 Commenters will be recognized by the Chairperson on a first-come, first-served basis in the order in which they submitted a request form (see 2.0 above).

3.3 When called by the Chair, the commenter will be allocated three (3) minutes to present their issue or viewpoint from the designated podium or microphone.

3.4 Speakers must maintain proper decorum and be respectful of all parties in attendance.

3.5 Speakers may not go over their allotted time given or delegate time to other speakers.

3.6 If more than ten (10) people wish to present their issue or viewpoint, the Chair in his or her discretion, may apportion the time among the speakers or refer the additional speakers over to the next meeting at which public comment is permitted.


4.0 Group presentations

4.1 The Board does not allow presentations by a team, or multiple persons representing a common group, during the public comment period.

4.2 If there are several people present who wish to speak on the same topic, they may select a representative to speak on their behalf and make one joint public comment. The presenter should note the group they are representing

4.3 All members should be physically present at the meeting.


5.0 Materials


5.1 Presenters are not advised to bring any materials or media presentations during the public comment period of the meeting.

5.2 Presenters are allowed to submit Electronic Media Presentations to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees 24 hours prior to the meeting. However, Electronic Media Presentations may be restricted to certain types of presentation formats.

5.3 All electronic files or devices will be screened by security devices prior to delivery to the recipient.


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