I attend a university in the United States where the school policy states that "Students are not permitted to setup or use their own wireless networks." This includes personal hotspots that come with one's phone plan, bluetooth connections, etc. I had some concerns about this policy and wrote to the administration. In the end they agreed to meet with me and said they would work with me to change the outdated policy. So for me, it looks like all good news. That being said, I'm aware that there are many other universities out there with this same policy, and that have refused to change it. Can these universities legally enforce this policy? I'm leaning towards thinking that they would not be able to (I'll link some of the sources that gave me this impression below), but I'm curious to hear what others have to say, as this is starting to become a very prevalent issue, and I wouldn't be surprised to see cases in court in the coming years.
One of the reasons for this policy provided by the school was that other wireless networks could cause unwanted interference with their network. Ignoring the fact that almost all modern devices (and all wireless devices using the 5Ghz spectrum, per regulation) automatically detect which wireless channels are being used and will select unused ones, it would seem that per FCC regulations, the university must
"...accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation."
Note: the type of interference - if any - caused by students self-hosting their own wireless networks would not come near to the FCC's "harmful interference" definition.
Also check out the §15.5(b) explanation in this article:
"For unlicensed devices, which include Wi-Fi, the FCC has consistently interpreted this to mean that interference incidental to the operation of a properly functioning device is allowable. Someone using a properly operating hotspot in your vicinity has as much a right to operate their device as you do operating your device, even if the two systems cause problems with each other."
It would also appear that the university wouldn't have any more right towards use of the wireless spectrum than any student would, as consistently the FCC has shown that property rights have no relation to usage rights of the wireless spectrum.
"First, under the general requirements for operation, the consumer does not receive or possess a 'vested or recognizable right to continued use of any given frequency' on the basis of device certification or use. Being the owner of the device does not guarantee the consumer exclusive, continuous, or ongoing usage of that wireless device at a specific frequency. Although a consumer may operate an unlicensed wireless device for weeks, months, or years, this operation does not confer a first-in-time 'vested' right to continue to operate the device if another licensed or unlicensed device begins to operate at that frequency."
Finally, it looks like the only authority with the right to ask someone to stop a wireless transmission is the FCC itself:
"The operator of a radio frequency device shall be required to cease operating the device upon notification by a Commission representative that the device is causing harmful interference."
Update: After seeing this comment from gparyani, I got curious and searched through all of the official university policies I'd agreed to. As it turns out, despite the warning being plastered all over the university's website, and the website itself saying that it's the university's policy not to allow students to create their own wireless networks... it's not actually in any of the hundreds of pages of policy documents that I agreed to abide by upon enrolling here... I just figured I'd highlight this point for any future visitors to this post.
Update #2 I have accepted this answer as it seems to be correct, and after waiting a few months and prompting the authors of some of the other compelling answers to respond, there has yet to be a counter argument. If, however, a strong counter argument is made, or you think I’ve selected the wrong answer, let me know with a valid explanation, and I’ll change my selection. It should also be noted that this answer was provided long after the hype died down on this question, hence why it doesn’t have nearly as many views and votes.