Demonstrations Policy

It is clearly inevitable, and indeed essential, that the spirit of inquiry and challenge that the university seeks to encourage will produce many conflicts of ideas, opinions and proposals for action. The university community recognizes its responsibility to provide effective channels for internal communication, free discussion and rational persuasion as the normal and preferred means of airing and reconciling such differences. On occasion, recourse to public demonstration and protest may become, for some, a necessary and justified means of supporting their cause or position.

In such cases, the university must seek to ensure a fair and reasonable balance and coordination between two sets of rights that are brought into conflict with one another. The first is the right of the members of the university community freely to pursue their academic and vocational objectives without unreasonable obstruction or hindrance. The second is the right of the members of the university community freely to communicate, by lawful demonstration and protest, the positions that they conscientiously espouse on vital issues of the day.

The university endorses both sets of rights and believes that each can be fully exercised without serious damage to the other.

However, neither set of rights justifies jeopardizing or threatening the safety of persons or property, including serious overcrowding of campus areas; interference with processes or procedures of instruction, research, administration or other activities authorized to be conducted in university facilities or on university property; violation of established closing hours; or obstruction of authorized access to, use of or egress from university facilities. These are regarded as conduct inimical to the policies and objectives of the university community, and such conduct by students may result in disciplinary actions from the university under university student conduct procedures.

Though clearly violent, unlawful or otherwise disruptive activities of identified participants during a given demonstration will subject those persons to university sanction despite any prior warning or admonition to the student, such activities shall not, of themselves or ordinarily in the absence of expressed prior warning, impair the right of other students to participate or continue in lawful demonstration and protest.

Circumstances may, however, combine to produce a situation in which reasonable persons may differ about whether the demonstration — regarded as a whole — infringes, or threatens immediately to infringe, upon the rights of other members of the university community. When in such cases the university person in authority — administrator, faculty or student chairperson — judges that the demonstration has passed proper bounds, she/ he shall communicate to the demonstrators insofar as feasible that this is his/her judgment, and she/he shall require that the demonstration be modified on stated conditions or promptly terminated. Failure of any student to observe such a declaration may subject him/her to disciplinary proceedings. The vice president for student affairs shall ordinarily be the administrator whose judgment shall be determinative in such situations; and, whenever she/ he is available and the circumstances otherwise reasonably permit, she/he shall authorize such declaration to be issued where, in his/her judgment, it is appropriate under this policy. Students seeking additional information should contact the senior associate dean of student development.

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