Skip to main content

Take Action


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.

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 Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students

  • PACAOS 102.04: Theft of, conversion of, destruction of, or damage to any property of the University, or any property of others while on University premises, or possession of any property when the student had knowledge or reasonably should have had knowledge that it was stolen.
  • PACAOS 102.05: Theft or abuse of University computers and other University electronic resources such as computer and electronic communications facilities, systems, and services. Use of University computer and electronic communications facilities, systems, or services that violates other University policies or campus regulations.
  • PACAOS 102.08:  Physical abuse including but not limited to physical assault; threats of violence; or other conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person.
  • PACAOS 102.13:  Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities.
  • PACAOS 102.02:  Other forms of dishonesty including but not limited to fabricating information, furnishing false information, or reporting a false emergency to the University.
  • PACAOS 102.14:  Disorderly or lewd conduct.
  • PACAOS 102.16: Failure to identify oneself to, or comply with the directions of, a University official or other public official acting in the performance of his or her duties while on University property or at official University functions; or resisting or obstructing such University or other public officials in the performance of or the attempt to perform their duties.

View the full Student Code of Conduct.

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 Constitutional 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.