Issues pertaining to freedom of speech and expression can be very complicated and confusing. This website is intended only to provide a brief outline about freedom of speech and expression, and is not meant to serve as legal advice. If you are a currently registered UC San Diego student, you may wish to contact Student Legal Services at (858) 534-4374 to schedule an appointment in order to discuss a particular question or issue.
Before, after, or during the program
- Write guest editorials or send letters to campus newspapers, Associated Students/campus resources, political representatives, groups, individuals, administrators, or responsible parties.
- Lend support, reassurance, and empathy to others who may be hurt by offensive messages.
- Be sure to comply with all university policies and local, state, and federal regulations.
During the program
Inside the room or event
- You may engage in peaceful, non-disruptive protest (for example, messages on shirts, turning your back to a speaker, putting tape over your mouth) if it does not create a disturbance or prevent the speaker from communicating to the audience, or otherwise prevent audience members from hearing and seeing the program.
- Audience members may choose to leave the event as long as they do not obstruct the presentation.
- If you disrupt or obstruct the presentation repeatedly or for a prolonged period of time, and fail to comply with the directions of university officials to cease disruption or leave the area, you will violate the university's code of conduct and/or the law. These are grounds for discipline or prosecution.
- For programs held where access to the event space can be controlled/secured, event sponsors may regulate what may be brought into an event space (such as video cameras or other recording devices) and activities that attendees may engage in; regulations such as these are permitted as they relate to time/place/manner (i.e., conduct) and not content.
Outside the building, room, or event
- Peaceful protest or picketing with leaflets, petitions, singing, chanting, or signs is allowed as long as it occurs in a space that is open to the public and does not disturb the event or prevent attendees from entering or leaving the event.
- Do not block entrances or exits, impede pedestrian or vehicle traffic, or prevent others from entering, hearing, seeing, or leaving the program or speech.
- Do not use amplified sound unless allowed by applicable university sound policies.
- Do not disrupt university functions or activities (such as nearby classes) or other events or programs using reserved space.
In response to a program
Before, after, or during the program, you can respond to speech that you disagree with by sponsoring a separate presentation or program featuring alternative viewpoints, such as a:
- Public forum
If you are confronted with offensive speech or materials
- Maintain a safe distance, and do not respond physically.
- Keep in mind that even though you find it offensive, it is very likely to be protected free speech (see: Freedom of speech and expression 101).
- Consider organizing an appropriate, nonviolent response.
- Seek assistance from a university official if you feel you are being singled out or targeted or if you think that the conduct or speech violates university policy.