Independent thought and diversity of opinions are the essence of the University, and freedom of expression is necessary for the University to fulfill its mission of producing and disseminating knowledge. Without the ability of its members to freely hear, express, and debate different ideas and points of view, the University would lack the culture of free inquiry that lies at the foundation of the academic enterprise. In furtherance of this mission, the University's Principles of Community aspire to create an environment committed to the highest standards of civility, respect, and decency.
"Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech …"
"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
—Amendment XIV, Section 1, Making the First Amendment Applicable to State and Local Governments
"Every person may freely speak, write and publish…sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press."
"… The Regents of the University of California … shall [not] make or enforce any rule subjecting any student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus …, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution."
Words from the UC
"In my ideal university, we engage in dialogue in a similar spirit, sincerely entertaining the possibility that we can gain insight from our dialogue partner. We readily accept that our own current grasp of the truth may be incomplete, and that even our deepest convictions may be questionable or based on faulty premises. Keeping our minds open to the possibility of a different interpretation is difficult, but it is a discipline worth developing.
One of its modes that I particularly value is something called "interpretive charity": when confronted with an idea that seems utterly wrong, we nonetheless try to understand in what ways it might contain some truth, or at least how it might seem to contain truth to others. No need to shout down the speaker of such an idea—indeed, every reason not to. We all gain more if we attempt to engage an idea thoughtfully rather than silence it—and this is especially true in the case of ideas that many of us believe are mistaken or find offensive."
—Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, 2016 UC Davis Fall Convocation (September 20, 2016)
Spoken Word by Students
Poetry as Ceremony, Valentin Sierra '17
Great Teachers, Takarra Johnson '19
Explain Please, Denisha Bland '18
"[T]he way to deal with extreme, unfounded speech is not with less speech — it is with more speech, informed by facts and persuasive argument. Educating students from an informed "more speech" approach as opposed to silencing an objectionable speaker should be one of academia's key roles. After all, these students will graduate into a country where objectionable speech is the current coin of the realm."
—President Janet Napolitano, It's Time to Free Speech on Campus Again (October 2, 2016)
UC Policies and Procedures Protecting Free Expression
UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual (PPM)
- 400-01: Freedom of Expression
- 270-20: Use and Reservation of University Properties/Event Arrangements
- 300-25: Distribution of Information and Literature
- 300-26: Distribution of Periodical Publications
- 300-27: Posting of Information
UC Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students (PACAOS)
Time, Place and Manner Restrictions
In public forums such as the Quad, the university may not regulate the content of speech but can place reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. Examples of permissible university time, place, and manner restrictions include:
- Time: Amplified sound is limited to certain hours. See CES sound permit policy.
- Place: Posting of information on university buildings is limited to designated bulletin boards. See Center for Student Involvement (CSI) posting policy.
- Manner: Distribution of literature may not obstruct the ingress and egress from university buildings. See the distribution of literature policy.
A more complete list of university time, place, and manner restrictions can be found in section IV of the University's Freedom of Expression policy (PPM 400-01).
Many UC Davis students over the years have chosen symbolic structures as a powerful means of communicating their ideas. In support of this form of expression, the university has designated a site on the Quad for "symbolic speech," where symbolic structures may be placed. The CSI symbolic structures policy governs such structures.