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UC San Diego encourages free, civil discourse that is respectful and reasoned. We believe that the respectful and reasoned exchange of ideas is the best way to persuade and learn from others. Free debate will, we believe, expose falsehood and promote truth. Free discourse, however, is not always civil, respectful, or reasoned, and can sometimes be deeply offensive and hurtful. While at times the exchange of controversial ideas and opinions may be distressing to our community members, it is important to recognize that the university acts as a home for diverse and sometimes contradictory ideas and opinions. We encourage UC San Diego community members to take action, to share their thoughts, ideals, and opinions and meet dissenting views with a variety of responses that promote community engagement.

Report Hate, Bias, Discrimination through the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD)

  • OPHD's mission is to educate the UC San Diego community about issues of bias, harassment and discrimination and to assist with the prevention and resolution of these issues in a fair and responsible manner.

  • Make a Report and learn more about the process.

Expressing Disagreement through Community Engagement

There are many ways to program, protest, or express a message. On campus, the physical location, set-up, and impact on campus operations (time, place, manner) are all an integral part of what to consider.

At UC San Diego, registered student organizations can reserve programming spaces, apply for Associated Students Programming, and receive logistical support from the Center for Student Involvement

Departments, Faculty and Staff can also reserve space on campus for programs, lectures, and other expressive activities.

Traditional programs are not the only form of expressing a perspective, processing a response to others free expression, or counterprogramming. 

Expressing Disagreement through Dialogue

Expressing Disagreement through Protests

We believe that peaceful protest is an effective way to counter speech or beliefs to which you are opposed. However, protests must be carried out in a way that does not infringe on anyone else’s rights, including the speaker’s. Keep in mind:

  • You are not allowed to block or prevent the movement or access of others.
  • It is illegal to disobey a lawful order by a police officer. Such an order might include staying behind a barricade; dispersing from certain areas; or stopping certain activities.
  • You should leave an area where others are engaging in illegal activities or acts of violence. Even if you are not participating in the illegal activities, your presence may be interpreted as such.
  • Refrain from speech that incites others to illegal activity or violent acts. This kind of speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

Please see the Policy on Speech, Advocacy and Distribution of Literature on University Grounds for more information.

Protesting Safely During COVID-19

Self-expression and displaying community support is still crucial during a global pandemic. Below is guidance how to do so safely.

  • Protest outside – expressing your message outside, rather than in closed spaces inside, will lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Wear a mask and avoid touching your face – wearing a mask protects others as well as yourself. Be sure while protesting to keep your mask on at all times and avoid touching other or your face.
  • Do not share beverages – at no time should you share beverages or food. Be sure to bring your own supply of food or drinks.
  • Sanitize – use hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands, signs, bullhorns, etc. If you do not have an alcohol based sanitizer, use soap and water.
  • Maintain six feet distance – do your best to try and maintain as much distance from others during the protest. This will keep you and other community members safe from the spread of COVID-19.
  • After protesting – be sure to change your clothes, shower and disinfect all items when you finish protesting. Consider a two week isolation period as many carriers of COVID-19 can be asymptomatic.

UC San Diego Health patients who are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus or think they have COVID-19 should call our dedicated COVID-19 Nurse Line: 800-926-8273. This phone line is staffed 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A nurse will ask questions to evaluate your potential risk for COVID-19 infection and identify the best course of action, including whether you should get tested. For more information, see COVID-19 Testing and Screening.

For further information on California COVID-19 Protesting Guidelines, please visit

Civil Disobedience

Protests and civil disobedience have played a historic role on university campuses, in bringing important and beneficial changes within society and in the development of our democracy. However, civil disobedience is not protected speech under the Constitution. The Constitution does not guarantee any right to engage in civil disobedience-which, by its very definition, involves the violation of laws or regulations-without incurring consequences. Civil disobedience may have a negative effect on the protected interests of others and may interfere with University business or threaten public safety or University assets in ways that require the University to act to protect those other interests. 

Could I be subject to disciplinary charges?

The following is a list of violations of University policy:

  • Destruction of or damage to University property ( University Admin Manual 5,405)
  • Removal of computers and software ( University Admin Manual 4,310)
  • Verbal and Physical abuse or threats (Section ii, A, 4-5)
  • Obstructing or disrupting University activities (Section ii, A, 2)
  • Furnishing false information to any University official, faculty member, or office (Section ii, A, 1b)
  • Disorderly or lewd conduct (Section ii, A, 2)
  • Failure to provide identification to or comply with directions of University official (Section ii, A, 3)
  • Resisting or obstructing University or other public officials in the performance of their duties (Section ii, A, 7)

View the full Student Code of Conduct.

What can the police charge me with?

Nuisance in building; trespass upon grounds; disturbing assembly ( NRS 206.140) Inspection by peace officer or inspector; citation or notice of violation; center for inspection; standards for tires and brakes ( NRS 484D.560)


Protesting Resources for International Students

At any time, it is important to avoid any violations of your F-1 or J-1 status. In addition to enrollment requirements, address reporting, or employment restrictions, individuals in non-immigrant status are expected to refrain from breaking any U.S. state or federal laws.

What Rights Do I Have While in the U.S.?

U.S. constitutional law is complex however regardless of your immigration status, noncitizens generally have equal First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution*: 

  • Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom of religion 
  • Freedom from illegal search and seizure (a law enforcement official must have a subpoena or warrant), unless a crime has been committed where the search would take place 
  • Permission to remain silent (and not say anything that could be used against you)
  • Guarantee of “due process” and “equal protection under the law”, which means that you have the right to an attorney, and a right to have a hearing before a judge in most cases
  • Right to contact your country’s Consulate

*Learn Liberty: The Constitutional Rights of Noncitizens and 2003: Cole, David: Georgetown Law, "Are Foreign Nationals Entitled to the Same Consitutional Rights as Citizens?"

Participating in Protests:

ISPO understands that choosing to protest is a very personal decision. Think carefully before engaging in protest activities as the potential to encounter or be approached by law enforcement is higher. If you choose to engage in protest activities, review the Amnesty International "Safety During Protest" information, the ACLU "Protesters' Rights" -  and print and carry the "Know Your Rights" card. 

What if I am Approached by U.S. Law Enforcement?

Review the following resources from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA). 

Arrests and Convictions:

Finally, understand that arrests can seriously impact immigration status or future visa applications

Arrests or convictions that involve violence, drugs or alcohol can have serious or long-lasting impact on current or future immigration status. Be aware that while marijuana use is legal in many U.S. states, it remains illegal at the federal level and use constitutes a violation of federal law. Use of marijuana, or alcohol/drug-related DUI arrests or convictions can lead to severe immigration consequences ranging from fines, visa cancellation to deportation.

If you are arrested or have any legal concerns, please contact ISPO immediately. In such cases, we urge you to retain immigration legal counsel and criminal legal counsel to advise you as to next steps and possible consequences.