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Overview of Campus Policies Relating to Free Speech and Expression

Note:

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.

The Policy on Free Speech, Advocacy and Distribution of Literature on University Grounds (also known as "PPM-510") contains regulations regarding the time, place, and manner of speech on the university grounds. It includes provisions relating to electronic and non-electronic amplified sound as well as the distribution, posting, and exhibition of literature.

Significant provisions include the following:

  • PPM-510 declares, "Of all social institutions in a democracy, a university has a special responsibility to promote an open atmosphere and to honor the first amendment."
  • Expressive activity on all university grounds is protected provided that it does not:
    1. Unreasonably disrupt or interfere with university business;
    2. Violate the legal rights of other persons, endanger their safety, or unreasonably disrupt, interfere, or obstruct viewing or hearing an expressive activity of another person or group that is in compliance with university policy;
    3. Obstruct the ingress or egress to any university facility, or obstruct the use of any pedestrian walkways, roadways, or fire lanes; or
    4. Unreasonably pose risk of damage to the environment (e.g., trees and other vegetation, wildlife) or to property.
  • Non-electronic amplified sound may be used anywhere on university grounds for expressive activity provided that the instrument of amplification is handheld (e.g., a megaphone).
  • Electronic amplified sound (e.g., a bullhorn) may be used in non-designated areas if 150 feet from an occupied building. It is also permitted in designated areas at certain times.

Section 16 of the UC San Diego Policies and Procedures Applying to Student Activities addresses policies and procedures relating to student expression and advocacy. Special attention is paid to the following policies:

  • UC San Diego will not abridge one's right to engage in political or religious speech so long as the speech is conducted in accordance with general UC San Diego policies relating to expression and advocacy. (UC San Diego Policies and Procedures Applying to Student Activities 16.14)
  • UC San Diego may put time, place, and manner restrictions on speech and expression (as set forth in PPM-510) so as to minimize or eliminate interference with UC San Diego functions, and to reasonably protect individuals from becoming involuntary audiences. (UC San Diego Policies and Procedures Applying to Student Activities 16.12)
  • Planned events will take precedence over spontaneous events or gatherings. (UC San Diego Policies and Procedures Applying to Student Activities 16.16.11.14)

Questions?

Contact Student Legal Services, (858) 534-4374.