Student Resources in Support of Free Expression

November 1, 2023

Dear Students,

Earlier today, President Alivisatos sent a message to the campus community that emphasized the responsibility we all bear for sustaining an environment of free inquiry and expression at the University. In recognition of the need to support students as they engage in various forms of expression in their academic, co-curricular, and advocacy pursuits, over a period of years the University has developed a set of pertinent policies, processes, and resources. Please find below links to key sections of the University Policies and Regulations: Student Manual that describe how students can actively participate in the free and open exchange of ideas and perspectives, including by engaging in protest and dissent, without impinging on the rights of others or disrupting University activities.

Protests and Demonstrations Policy
Protests and demonstrations, whether planned or spontaneous, are integral to a campus that fosters free expression. However, these actions should be peaceable and orderly, and should not interfere with the expression of others or disrupt academic, research, or administrative activities at the University. This section of the Student Manual also provides guidance on various aspects of protest and demonstration activity such as, Noise Level, Building Occupancy, the use of Placards, Banners, and Signs, Advance Arrangements, Protest and Demonstration Duration, and Counter-protest.

Disciplinary System for Disruptive Conduct
This student disciplinary system exists to receive, investigate and resolve complaints that a student or student group has engaged in disruptive conduct as defined by University Statute 21. This section of the Student Manual provides information on the procedures for submitting a complaint as well as details on this student disciplinary process.

Civil Behavior in a University Setting
While UChicago does not have an honor code or prohibit what some call hate speech, some actions may necessitate University intervention. This section of the Student Manual includes guidance on the circumstances under which the University may seek to restrict or prohibit expression that violates community standards or set limits on the time, place, and manner of expression.

Outdoor Events on Campus
This section of the Student Manual outlines the limits of use and access to University property and offers guidance to students and groups seeking to use University spaces, such as the Main Quadrangles, for events (including protests and demonstrations).

Posting Policy
Flyers, posters, and banners are all acceptable forms of expression at the University but are subject to guidelines on content and location, and other attributes that are described in this section of the Student Manual. University guidance on sidewalk or walkway chalking can also be found here. Members of the campus community should not remove or destroy flyers, posters, banners, or chalkings they find objectionable or offensive. Instead, they should bring any concerns or complaints to the attention of the staff at the Center for Leadership and Involvement or the appropriate building manager.

In addition to these policies and procedures related to free expression, students can seek the advice of University offices when planning events, including protests and demonstrations, to ensure their success and alignment with University guidelines. Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) may work with their advisers and the staff in the Center for Leadership and Involvement, and any student or student group interested in holding an event using a campus space is encouraged to consult with the team at Student Centers.

Finally, and importantly, the University does not tolerate unlawful discrimination, including harassment, directed at individuals or groups, as reflected in University Policy. We are committed to taking action to prevent such behavior and to address any cases that arise. Please note the following resources that are available to you in these instances:

  • In an emergency situation or to report a crime, contact the University Police Department (UCPD) at 773.702.8181 or the City of Chicago Police (CPD) at 911.
  • The Center for Awareness, Resolution, Education, and Support (UChicago CARES) works to prevent and respond to all forms of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. Reports can be made here.
  • Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a bias incident is encouraged to report it to the Bias Education & Support Team (BEST)
  • Students who are targeted by online harassment, including trolling, doxing, and cyberbullying can find information and advice, including how to make a report, in the Guide to Managing Online Harassment.
  • 24/7 support and advice for students is available through the Dean-on-Call, who can be reached by contacting UCPD and leaving a call back number, or directly via the UChicago Safe mobile app.
  • Mental health support can also be accessed 24/7 via the Therapist-on-Call at 773.702.3625 or via TimelyCare’s 24/7 on-demand service, TalkNow. Additional information on counseling services is available through Student Wellness.

An essential shared task of our community is to preserve a campus environment where diverse points of view – in some cases viewpoints in strong opposition to each other – can be expressed without fear or undue restriction, and to build an environment where people can listen, learn, and grow, share perspectives, and join in a search for truth. University administrators and staff are committed to supporting students in these endeavors and hope that you will reach out to us and consider us a resource during your time at the University.




Michele Rasmussen
Dean of Students in the University

UChicagoSocial: Campus and Student Life