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Division of Student Affairs

Protests

If someone is holding an event on campus, can I protest it?

Yes. A part of free speech and expression is the right to engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest. The university expects all who engage in protest activity to do so peacefully and safely. Below are some reminders for how to protest safely:

  • Avoid activity that infringes on the rights of others, such as blocking or preventing the movement or access of others.
  • Follow the instructions of a police officer or university officials, such as staying behind barricades, dispersing from an area declared an unlawful assembly and not resisting arrest. It is against the law to disobey a lawful order by a police officer, and it is a violation of university policy to disobey a direction from a university official.
  • Leave the area where others are engaging in illegal activities and acts of violence. Your presence may be interpreted as participating in a riot or illegal group action. Staying overnight in a campus building after hours is prohibited.
  • Refrain from inciting others to commit acts of violence such as pushing, kicking or spitting on others, destruction of property or other unlawful actions.
  • Make informed decisions. If you choose to engage in civil disobedience and get arrested, know the potential consequences.

Can people who oppose a speaker’s message use their own freedom of speech to shout down that speaker’s message?

No. Freedom of speech does not give you permission to silence the speech of others by shouting, heckling or otherwise disrupting a speech to the point that the speaker cannot continue or that the audience can no longer listen. The free-speech rights of the speaker would be violated if the audience could silence anyone with whom they disagreed. If you were allowed to shout down speech you disagreed with, then open and free debate would be impossible. Intentionally disrupting a speaker may result in disciplinary sanctions or even criminal charges against the disruptive individual.