Freedom of Speech


Freedom of speech is a bedrock value of our constitutional system and is at the core of this university’s mission. Courts have recognized that First Amendment principles ‘acquire a special significance in the university setting, where the free and unfettered interplay of competing views is essential to the institution’s educational mission.’ The California State University is also committed to upholding and preserving academic freedom, which for the faculty encompasses freedom of inquiry and research, freedom of teaching, and freedom of expression and publication. Of course, the ideas of different members of the institution’s community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the institution to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the institution greatly values civility, and although all members of the institution’s community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.

Because the institution is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the institution’s community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the institution, the institution fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the institution community ‘to discuss any problem that presents itself. Moreover, free speech requires us to accept that we will be exposed to viewpoints, arguments or forms of expression that make us uncomfortable or even offend us. It is in precisely these circumstances that free speech often serves its most vital purpose, especially in an educational context. Throughout history, speech that challenges conventional wisdom has been a driving force for progress. Speech that makes us uneasy may compel us to reconsider our own strongly held views -- in fact, a willingness to reconsider strongly held views is one of the reasons why people pursue higher education. Hearing offensive viewpoints provides opportunities for those sentiments to be exposed, engaged and rebutted.

Universities exist to provide the conditions for hard thought and difficult debate so that individuals can develop the capacity for independent judgment. This cannot happen if universities attempt to shield people from ideas and opinions they might find unwelcome, or if members of the university community try to silence or interfere with speakers with whom they disagree. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis advised in his famous Whitney v. California opinion in 1927, ‘If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.’

Of course, freedom of speech is not and cannot be absolute. While there is no hate speech exception to First Amendment protections, threats, harassment, ‘fighting words,’ incitement and defamatory speech are not protected. Freedom of speech does not mean a right to say anything at any place and any time. There can and must be restrictions on the time, place and manner of speech, but the campus is committed to ensuring the availability of places for speeches and protests. And so, we will safeguard freedom of speech. But in addition, we will keep in mind the need to nurture other norms and practices in order for us to perform the distinctive mission of the university.

It is of value to society if there is a place where people decide that they will work together to create a scholarly community dedicated to rigorous inquiry, evidence-based reasoning, logical argumentation, experimentation, and a willingness to reassess one’s perspective in light of new evidence and arguments. These beliefs and practices – these scholarly norms – are inextricably linked to related values, including a genuine desire to engage competing perspectives and learn from those who have had different experiences or who hold different viewpoints. It is because of these values that we attempt to resolve (or at least better understand) disagreements through reasoned and sustained conversation, debate and the acquisition of new knowledge. They also prompt us to speak out in support of each other when members of our community are subject to hateful, discriminatory or inflammatory personal attacks. If our commitment to freedom and democracy leads us to defend the rights of free speech, our commitment to scholarly inquiry and education leads us to promote norms and practices that enable us to learn from each other in an atmosphere of positive engagement and mutual respect.

Commercial transactions and solicitation, non-commercial transactions and solicitation, freedom of expression activities, and posting and chalking serve an important purpose at CSUDH. They communicate upcoming events and activities and disseminate information and opinions on important issues. Sometimes, however, freedom of expression activities and posted materials, can direct hurtful and/or hateful messages toward an individual or group. While there will always be disagreements over what may constitute good taste or appropriate comment, there can be no question, particularly in a university, that freedom of expression is a cherished and protected right. As a corollary to the institution’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the institution’s community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the institution’s community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the institution has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

Policy Administration

As required by Education Code section 66303, the President designates the Division of Student Affairs to administer this policy and serve as liaison with students exercising free speech. The President designates Faculty Affairs and Human Resources Management to administer this policy and serve as liaison with faculty and staff exercising free speech.

Scope of This Policy

The use of campus buildings, facilities, or grounds for purposes of non-commercial solicitations, commercial solicitations or transactions, freedom of expression activities, amplified sound, and posting or chalking, including the distribution of handbills and circulars, is contingent upon the agreement of those engaging in such activities to assume responsibility for observing the following:

  1. The activities must be conducted in a lawful manner.
  2. The activities must not unreasonably interfere with instructional programs or the operation of the campus.
  3. The activities must conform to the time, place, and manner restrictions established by this Policy. The Policy may be found on the Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Administration and Finance websites and hard copies may be obtained from the Division of Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs, and Human Resources Management.
  4. The activities must be conducted in conformance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, as well as university policies, procedures, and regulations.
  5. No events will be scheduled during commencement ceremonies.
  6. The activities must abide by the University’s alcohol and other drugs policy.
  7. In order to facilitate safety and floor maintenance, individuals with bare feet are prohibited from entering University buildings, with the exception of appropriate areas of University housing facilities and physical education facilities.
  8. Camping on University property or living in privately owned, temporary lodging parked or erected on university property is prohibited without written permission from the University.
  9. Erection of any temporary structure on campus must be approved by Facilities Services, in coordination with Risk Management for the safety of all participants and bystanders. Call 310-243-3804 to speak to a Facilities Services representative for permission.
  10. Pets will be allowed on campus only when on a leash and accompanied by their owner. No animals, except when being used for official University instructional purposes, and/or as service animals, will be permitted inside campus buildings without prior approval of the University.
  11. Without specific permission from the President or designee, it shall be prohibited on property or areas under the control of the University, for any person to fire, discharge, shoot, or operate, or to assist or participate in the firing, discharging, shooting or operating, or have in his or her possession, care, custody or control, any gun, revolver, pistol, firearm, pellet gun, paint gun, spring gun, air gun, sling, sling shot, or device designed, or intended, to discharge, or capable of discharging any dangerous missile, or any cartridge, shell ammunition, or device, designed or intended to be used in or fired from, any gun, revolver, pistol, or firearm, or other device intended to project a missile.
  12. Without specific permission from the President or designee, it shall be prohibited to engage in, participate in, or assist participants in any game which involves the ambushing, lying-in-wait for, or following another person by means of stealth; or to participate or assist in the participation in any game which would involve the firing of any device as defined in the preceding paragraph.
  13. A person shall not shoot any arrow or similar missile, and a person shall not cause or permit any arrow or similar missile to be shot on University property, except as a part of a University course of study or official sponsored activity.
  14. No Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) (aka Drone) may be flown on or around the University campus without the express written approval of the University.
  15. No one may possess, use, store, or manufacture explosives, firebombs, or other destructive devices; (2)
  16. No one may possess, use, or carry an open flame of any kind, except as authorized by University officials;
  17. No one may possess, use, or carry equipment or supplies intended for war, war games, battle, and/or to inflict physical violence including but not limited to sharpened sticks, rods, masks, helmets, body armor, or any object intended to be used as a weapon shield or protective gear. (3)

Use of University property may be subject to fees and/or require liability insurance and/or an indemnity agreement. Where this is the case, persons or groups granted the use of University property are responsible for reimbursing the University or its auxiliaries in accordance with EO- 1000. Such users also assume responsibility for all damage they cause to University property.

Failure to reimburse the University or its auxiliaries for use charges or for damage to property may jeopardize future access to and/or use of University property.

The University’s Chief of Police will determine the type of security necessary for events based on the public safety needs of any event being held in or around University property. Each event will be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine appropriate staffing and other security and safety measures. The University will assess security needs, and assess fees for security provided by the University, based on content and viewpoint neutral factors. The University always reserves the right to charge fees for security and other expenses related to facilities use on a content and viewpoint neutral basis.

(2) This restriction does not apply to members of law enforcement.
(3) This restriction does not apply to members of law enforcement.

Purpose of Policy

The purpose of this policy is to facilitate the effective use and enjoyment of the University’s property as an educational institution, and to promote the free exchange of ideas while ensuring the safe and efficient operation of University facilities. Orderly procedures are necessary to promote the use of University property, to conserve and protect University property, to prevent interference with or disruption of University functions, and to protect the safety and rights of those using University property.

We recognize, however, that some events may disrupt the orderly operation of the University and/or can raise significant security concerns. To ensure the safety of the University and the campus community while protecting First Amendment rights of those who wish to participate in events hosted on University property, the University will enforce this Policy. All criteria for assessing events shall be applied in a viewpoint neutral manner.

Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions


Reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the use of public forums are permissible, provided that they are carefully designed to (1) coordinate the appropriate use of a particular location for speech activities, remain viewpoint-neutral, and not to prohibit particular forms of expression; (2) “serve a significant government interest” and are not more extensive than necessary to serve that interest; and (3) “leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.” They must be clear and specific enough to place the public on notice as to exactly what is authorized and what is forbidden.

Speakers at any protests, rallies, demonstrations, meetings, or similar events enjoy the rights of free speech and members of the campus community and other persons shall have the right to disagree with and protest any speaker or event, in compliance with all provisions of this policy. Students and faculty are free to express their opinion and views in the classroom without censorship, provided that such expressions are not disruptive and are related to the subject matter under discussion in the class or are invited by the class instructor. Those not enrolled in a class or specifically invited by the instructor to attend a particular class do not enjoy such rights.

CSU Dominguez Hills, like most other institutions, routinely sets forth regulations pertaining to the way activities may be conducted. Three examples of such restrictions follow:

  1. Scheduled events take precedence over spur of the moment
  2. Because an event may interfere with classes in session and/or other activities, please refer to Section B, Amplified Sound, page 2 for sound amplification
  3. Activities that restrict or disturb the routine business of the University are generally prohibited or closely monitored and as such, may be directed to cease should it be determined that such activity is restricting or disturbing the business of the

TIME: Daily, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. However, current CSU Dominguez Hills registered students, student clubs/organizations, staff, and faculty, may engage in freedom of expression activities that require more flexibility and options.

PLACE: Freedom of expression activities may take place on campus with the following exceptions: inside parking lots and university buildings and within 20 feet of any location in which instructional, educational, and/or official business activities are being conducted. 

MANNER: Freedom of expression must be conducted in a manner that (1) shall not interfere with or obstruct the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, (2) shall not interfere with or disrupt the conduct of university business, (3) shall be carried out without creating excessive noise by use of a device, (4) shall not unreasonably interfere with classes in session or other scheduled academic, educational, co-curricular programs, (5) shall not promote an unlawful end, such as promoting actual violence or bodily or property harms, terrorist threats, defamation, obscenity, and false advertising, and (6) shall not violate any federal, state or local safety code, such as regulations set by the State Fire Marshal. Persons using areas generally available to students and the community are allowed to distribute petitions, circulars, leaflets, newspapers, and other printed matter. Individuals or groups distributing materials in these areas, other than material discarded or dropped in or around appropriate receptacles, shall make a reasonable effort to retrieve and remove such materials, prior to their departure from the areas that day. These procedures will be administered by the Vice President for Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs, or Human Resource Management and will be enforced by the University Police Department. Enforcement will be in compliance with existing state and federal laws.

VIOLATIONS: Behavior in violation of any of these regulations is subject to intervention by university and/or law enforcement officials. In the event of an alleged or perceived violation, those in violation will be asked to comply with the applicable regulations by the appropriate campus authorities.

If a violation persists or is repeated, or if the assembly poses an imminent danger to public safety, those assembled may be required to disperse immediately. Continued violation may result in arrest, code of conduct violations for students, and subsequent legal action by the university. If the violation occurs at a scheduled event, the permission for the event may be immediately revoked, and future requests by those individuals or groups in violation may be canceled or denied.

University disciplinary action against CSU Dominguez Hills community members alleged to have violated this policy and procedure shall be in conformity with the Code of Student Conduct, and/or applicable collective bargaining agreements and established University guidelines.

The Division of Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs, and Human Resource Management can provide further information about issues of free speech.


Education Code, Sections 66600, 66606, 89030, 89031, and 89035. California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Sections 42350 - 42353. Penal Code Sections, 148, 407, 409, 415.5, 602.1, 626.4, 626.6, and 647c.

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