This question pertains to the USA. In all public universities I'm aware of, anyone can get on campus, sit in on virtually any lecture, and enter the school's library. Does this mean that public universities are considered public space? What about within a public university classroom? Do people have an expectation of privacy when in a public university classroom?

  • Does the former imply a lack of the latter?
    – yaboi
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 11:46
  • Ah, I guess my question pertains more to direct examples, such as being able to photograph someone, or having other people end up in photos of yourself when in a public university classroom
    – yaboi
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 17:27
  • Then ask that in a new question - don't edit your question to make existing answers incomplete
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 21:22
  • Fair enough, edit removed, original question still stands
    – yaboi
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 21:23
  • Also, there are several questions on this site that address photography
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


No. Just because some building is "owned by the public" or State, doesn't mean it's public property.

A state's national guard installation comes to mind immediately. State workers' offices are not public places. Airport hangars/buildings/runways. You can't just go hang out in the DPW garages.

  • 2
    Fair enough, but note that you CAN simply go hang out on most areas of a public university campus
    – yaboi
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 19:45
  • @yaboi Only for lack of enforcement or by permission. A public university has the same authority over its property as a private landowner and they can and do have people removed from campus for trespassing. It isn't uncommon in big cities for all or parts of a public university campus to be actually gated.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 21:49

You must be a student enrolled in the class to (legally) attend it. A class is not "open to the public," and permission from the instructor must be given to "sit in" on a class. So yes, there is an expectation of privacy in the classroom, limited to only those enrolled or teaching in the current class in the current term.

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