Legal Terms

Board Buzzwords - Legislative/Legal

Legals Terms Every Community College Trustee Should Know

campus carry

legislation that allows licensed concealed handguns on college campuses. Many college campuses are quite conflicted about students and college staff having concealed weapons on campus.  (See “concealed  carry” below and ACCT’s Trustee Talk, Issue #10 and Addendum To Keep and Bear Arms – Implications for Governing Boards and Trustee Talk, Issue #15: Guns on Campus–A Loaded Issue, Part I.)


Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is the third stimulus bill meant to address the health and economic hardships caused by the  COVID-19 pandemic, published March 27, 2020, for $2 trillion in aid.

Provides assistance for American workers and families; small businesses (includes the Paycheck Protection Program); state, local and tribal governments; and preserving jobs for American Industry.

Includes Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Provides emergency financial aid grants to students who are eligible for aid under Sec. 484 of the 2020 Higher Education Act meant to assist those students and colleges impacted by the economic downturn and job loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation.

Previous federal stimulus bills include the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, signed into law on March 6, followed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18.

concealed carry

the practice of carrying a concealed weapon (such as a handgun, knife, etc.) in public places. (See “campus  carry” above and ACCT’s Trustee Talk, Issue #10 “To keep and bear arms”-Implications for Governing Boards and Addendum To Keep and Bear Arms – Implications for Governing Boards and Trustee Talk, Issue #15: Guns on Campus – A Loaded Issue, Part I.)


usually referring to controversial speakers who were invited to speak on campus by a particular student group. For those speakers who have created campus disruptions in the past, some student groups and administrators have requested that the students retract their invitations, thus limiting free speech on the basis of potential violence and protest. In a May 2016 commencement address, President Obama urged not to “try to shut folks out or shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them. There’s been a trend around the country to trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view., or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that—no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths because ..every time a fool speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk. If you don’t, you just make them a victim, and they can avoid accountability.”

force majeure


Act of God or extraordinary circumstances in contract language that allows for extreme action to be taken.

Dire circumstances that prevent parties from fulfilling a contract

free speech zones

also known as First Amendment zones, are areas in the college set aside for the purpose of political protests. Many feel that these zones confine political expression to distant out-of-the-way locations on campus. See also related “disinvitations” and “speech codes.”



Statements from a government agency that represents the department’s thinking on a topic meant to provide guidance and direction; guidances lack the force and effect of law. Recent federal guidances form the U.S. Department of Education can be found on the ACCT website.

The new CDC guidance outlines considerations for colleges to use as they reopen.

heckler’s veto

refers to a situation involving a government official who allows a hostile audience’s reaction to shut down or silence an unpopular speaker. It is an American free speech term  describing situations in which a party who disagrees with a speaker’s message is able to conduct events that result in silencing the speaker. See also, “Free speech zone” and “speech codes.”



Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), H.R. 6800, for $3 trillion, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15, 2020 on a largely Democratic party-line vote. The legislation moved to the Senate with action still pending.

Among other stipulations, 30% or $26.72 billion of state funds is aimed to support public higher education institutions.

social distancing

to maintain a safe or appropriate distance from other people, especially to slow the spread of a contagious illness or disease

speech code

written college policies regulating expression at colleges and universities that is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Such policies can also include policies on controversial speakers, public demonstrations and harassment.

sunshine laws

regulations requiring public openness, advance notice, convenient times and places for meetings, records, votes, etc., i.e. open access to the public.

Title IV

term that refers to federal financial aid funds. Federal regulations state that any federal funds disbursed to a student's account in excess of allowable charges must be delivered to the student (or parent in case of an undergraduate PLUS loan).

Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. See ACCT’s Trustee Talk #13: Sexual Misconduct Prevention on College Campuses for resources and samples of college policies related to Title IX.

trigger warning

refers to the use of warnings to students about course content: In academic settings, they are written or spoken warnings given by professors to alert students that course material might be traumatic for people with particular life experiences.  Much debate about freedom of speech, etc. In the classroom.