Student Free Expression: Demonstration and Fixed Exhibit Policy

Introduction: USF Values

As a Catholic, Jesuit institution, the University has the opportunity and the responsibility to advocate the values and theological tenets upon which it is founded. As an institution of higher education we are committed to the free and open expression of a broad and diverse range of ideas. The University is committed to the proposition that higher education prepares students to be critical thinkers and to equip them to exchange their points of view in a respectful and inclusive learning environment. Education is best achieved with dialogue among divergent and pluralistic viewpoints.

The University has recognized this view of education as a key component of its vision, mission, and values, including as core values a belief and commitment to advancing:

  1. The Jesuit Catholic tradition that views faith and reason as complementary resources in the search for truth and authentic human development, and that welcomes persons of all faiths and religions or no religious beliefs as fully contributing members of the University;
  2. The freedom and the responsibility to pursue truth and follow evidence to its conclusion.
  3. Diversity of perspectives, experiences, and traditions as essential components of a quality education in a global context.

Therefore, because USF is irrevocably committed to full intellectual discourse, the University reaffirms the right of every member of the University community to free expression, free association, and free exercise of religion. Students are free to express their views individually or in organized groups, on any topic, on all USF campuses, subject only to rules necessary to preserve the equal rights of others and the other functions of the University.

Freedom of Expression: Protections and Guarantees

Freedom of expression at the University of San Francisco includes the right of USF students to present and advocate their ideas in the spirit of the development of knowledge and the quest for truth. Freedom of expression includes demonstrations, fixed exhibits, petitioning, information dissemination, the formation of groups, and participation in group activities. The University shall not, in general, impair or abridge the foregoing freedoms beyond the regulation of the time, place, and manner of their expression, except as to such speech, expression, or association that falls outside of traditional constitutional protection. While students and student organizations at USF are guaranteed the freedom to examine and to discuss questions of interest, and to express their opinions publicly and privately, the University also recognizes its obligation to protect its property and processes from individual or collective actions which are malicious, or which disrupt this institution, or which obstruct, restrain or interfere with activities of members of the University community, whether by physical force or intimidation. It must be at all times understood that the positions or views espoused are those of students or speakers themselves and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

Demonstration and Fixed Exhibit Policy

Demonstrations and fixed exhibits are permitted on the Hilltop campus so long as they are orderly, lawful, and congruent with the standards below and all other policies within the Student Conduct Code. Demonstrations and fixed exhibits that appear to violate this or other policies of the Student Conduct Code may be interrupted or stopped at the direction of the Dean of Students or designee. Upon report of any possible violation of these or other policies of the Student Conduct Code that takes place as part of a demonstration or fixed exhibit, participants, organizers, or sponsors may be subject to the student conduct process.


For the purposes of this policy, the term “demonstration” will refer broadly to the organized display of these rights. The right of students to demonstrate on campus may not interfere with the rights of others to engage in and benefit from the educational programs and services of the University. Accordingly, demonstrations are subject to the following standards regarding the time, place, and manner in which they occur:

This meeting is not an attempt by the University to censor or otherwise limit content or viewpoint, but rather to advise organizers regarding applicable standards for time, place, and manner.

Notifications received fewer than two (2) days before the demonstration may be reviewed subject to staff availability; however, support and resources may be limited.

  1. Time: Demonstrations must occur within the hours of normal operations for the facility or space in which they occur (if applicable). Buildings will not be kept open beyond regular hours to accommodate demonstrations.\
  2. Place: Demonstrations may not take place indoors with the exception of the University Center or in any space that has been concurrently reserved by other members of the University community or guests. Demonstrations may not impede the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, block thoroughfares, or obstruct campus building entry or exit points.
  3. Manner: As a Jesuit institution, the manner in which USF students engage in civil discourse is held to a high standard. Just as students are encouraged to engage in critical thought and social action, so are they expected to do so in a manner that honors the inherent dignity of all people, even those who may disagree. Therefore, demonstrations may not take place in a manner that endangers the University community, violates the law or the USF Student Conduct Code or interrupts the functioning of the University (interfering with or disrupting classes or other ongoing University events or activities). Demonstrations may not utilize amplified sound in a manner that substantially interferes with classes or other events in progress. Further, demonstrators may not claim to speak for or otherwise represent the position of the University, unless officially sanctioned by the Dean of Students.
  4. Notifications: Individual students or recognized student organizations intending to organize a demonstration are encouraged to notify the Office of the Dean of Students (located on the 5th floor of the University Center) two (2) business days before the demonstration. Upon receiving notification, the Dean of Students or designee will offer to meet with organizers to provide appropriate support and resources to mitigate risk and protect participants’ rights. This may include assistance with:
  5. reserving space
  6. clarify goals
  7. promotions and notifications
  8. news and media coverage (working with Office of Marketing Communications)
  9. access to sign making material
  10. coordinating with public safety

Fixed Exhibits

Free expression may also take the form of fixed exhibits, such as ribbons or banners tied to trees or lamp posts; temporary walls or other erected structures; or flags, crosses, signs, or other items planted in the ground. Fixed exhibits, due to their unique nature, must be coordinated with the Dean of Students or designee in consultation with other stakeholders (Events Management and Guest Services, Public Safety, Facilities, etc.). Individual students or recognized student organizations wishing to sponsor a fixed exhibit must submit a request to Events Management and Guest Services at least seven (7) business days before installation. Following receipt of this request, the sponsoring party must meet with the Dean of Students or designee to discuss expectations, rights, responsibilities, and logistical considerations (time, place, and manner), which must be mutually understood and accepted. All requests will be considered.

Prior to the installation of the fixed exhibit, the sponsoring party will receive written notification of the agreed upon parameters from the Dean of Students or designee, which will have the effect of policy. Fixed exhibits may only remain displayed for five (5) or fewer consecutive business days and may not be displayed during University holidays. The sponsoring party is responsible for any damage to University property resulting from the exhibit.

Fixed exhibits may not take place in a manner that endangers the University community, violates the law or the USF Student Conduct Code or interrupts the functioning of the University (interfering with or disrupting classes or other ongoing University events or activities). Fixed exhibits may not utilize amplified sound in a manner that substantially interferes with classes or other events in progress.  Further, other restrictions apply, such as the prohibited use of sidewalk chalk and the obstruction of walkways.