Laws and Policies

Law books on a shelfIndependent 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.

—Preamble, UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual (PPM) – Freedom of Expression - Section 400-01

U.S. Constitution

"Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech …"

—Amendment I

"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

California Constitution

"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."

Article I, Section 2(a)

California Education Code

"Neither the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, the governing board of a community college district, nor an administrator of any campus of those institutions, shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus of those institutions, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution."

California Education Code Section 66301

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)

UC Policies and Procedures Protecting Free Expression

UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual (PPM)

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:

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).

Symbolic Structures

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.

Other Resources

United States Courts: What Does Free Speech Mean?

First Amendment Center

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

National Lawyers Guild (NLG)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

UC Davis Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA): Student Rights and Grievances

UC National Center for Free Speech

Report Violations and Concerns

If you believe your rights have been violated or that you have witnessed an act of hate, bias, discrimination or harassment, learn how and where to report it.