2020-2021 Catalog 
    Dec 08, 2023  
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Institutional Policy on Freedom of Expression

A. Preamble

The University of San Francisco is a University in the Jesuit tradition. It is governed by a self-perpetuating, independent Board of Trustees under a charter granted in 1855 by the State of California.

As a Catholic Jesuit institution, the University has the opportunity and the responsibility to advocate the values and theological tenets upon which it is founded.

As an educational institution, the University is committed to the proposition that a truly educated student comes away from the University equipped not only to develop and articulate a point of view but to sustain it in the face of contrary opinions. Cardinal John Henry Newman stated in his classic text, The Idea of a University, “It is not the way to learn to swim in troubled waters never to have gone into them.” Education is best achieved with dialog among divergent or pluralistic viewpoints.

The University has recognized this view of education as a key component of its vision, mission and values, including as core values a belief and commitment to advancing:

  1. The Jesuit Catholic tradition that views faith and reason as complementary resources in the search for truth and authentic human development, and that welcomes persons of all faiths and religions as fully contributing partners to the University;
  2. The freedom and the responsibility to pursue truth and follow evidence to its conclusion;
  3. Diversity of perspectives, experiences, and traditions as essential components of a quality education in our global context.

Viewed in this manner there is no inherent conflict in the mission of USF as a University and as a Catholic institution. Just as the very nature of religious belief requires free, uncoerced assent, so the nature of a university requires respect for evidence, for investigation, for reason, and for enlightened assent.

Therefore, because we are irrevocably committed to full intellectual discourse, we reaffirm the right of every member of the University community to free expression, free association and free exercise of religion.

B. Protections and Guarantees

Freedom of expression at the University of San Francisco includes the right of USF students to present and advocate their ideas in the spirit of the development of knowledge and the quest for truth. Freedom of expression includes debates, speeches, symposia, posting of signs, petitioning, information dissemination, the formation of groups and participation in group activities, and the invitation of guest speakers to address the University community.

It must be at all times understood that the positions or views espoused are those of students or speakers themselves and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University.

The University shall not, in general, impair or abridge the foregoing freedoms beyond the regulation of the time, place and manner of their expression, except as to such speech, expression or association that falls outside of traditional constitutional protection. While students and student organizations at USF are guaranteed the freedom to examine and to discuss questions of interest, and to express their opinions publicly and privately, the University also recognizes its obligation to protect its property and processes from individual or collective actions that are malicious, or that disrupt this institution, or that obstruct, restrain or interfere with activities of members of the University community, whether by physical force or intimidation.

C. Policies

1. USF students are free to organize and to join associations whose stated purposes are consistent with the University Mission and its Catholic, Jesuit character, to promote their common interests. All student groups are required to register with the University, and registration of a student group carries with it certain rights, responsibilities, and privileges:

  • Registration of student organizations shall be with the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement. Information required for registration will include the following: name of organization; statement of general purposes; name, address, telephone number, and student identification number of all officers and/or directors of the organization; and any other information about the organization required by the University administration. Registration of student organizations shall be freely permitted, subject to the limitations set forth herein. Registration of student organizations does not in any way suggest or imply that the University approves, supports or sponsors such organizations, or the points of view espoused thereby.
  • Membership in registered student organizations must be open to ALL registered students at the University, except in certain gender-specific fraternal orders.
  • All registering student organizations will agree, at the time of registration with the University, to the policies and procedures promulgated herein relating to their activities on campus.
  • All information disseminated by any registered student organization shall bear on its face the following statement: “The views presented herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the University of San Francisco.”
  • Registered student groups have the right to request student activity funding from the appropriate funding source, which funding shall not be withheld on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or sexual orientation, disability, national and/or ethnic origin, creed or age.
  • Registered student groups may use campus facilities and resources as defined by the Vice President for University Life (or the Vice President’s designee) and printed in the most recent edition of the Fogcutter Student Handbook.

2. Access to University facilities shall be granted to registered student organizations, subject to the provisions set forth below:

All registered student groups shall be granted equal access to the following University facilities and resources: the use of information tables in designated common areas, access to designated bulletin boards, scheduled use of meeting rooms, access to publicity announcements in the student media (subject to the official publicity regulations of those media). Registered student groups will be permitted to sponsor guest speakers, which speakers shall (a) be permitted to present and advocate their ideas in the spirit of the development of knowledge and the quest for truth and (b) be governed by University regulations while on University premises.

Individual students may reserve facilities only to conduct pre-organizational meetings (see Event Planning Guidelines in the Fogcutter Student Handbook). Other use of meeting rooms by individual students and the opportunity of individual students to invite guest speakers to campus shall be subject to appropriate administrative policies and regulations contained in the most recent edition of the Fogcutter Student Handbook.

3. All written information or materials disseminated by individual students or registered student groups on University premises must be stamped with the disclaimer set forth in section C(1)(d) of this policy.

Individual students and student groups are required to comply with University administrative regulations at all times.

D. Activities Regulations

1. The University shall have the right to regulate the time, place and manner of all on-campus expression, and to prohibit any speech and expression which creates a clear and present danger of:

  • blocking roadways or walkways in common areas;
  • restricting or preventing physical access to campus buildings;
  • generating excessive litter;
  • generating excessive noise; or
  • interfering with or disrupting classes or other ongoing University events or activities.

2. In addition, the University shall have the right to prohibit, prevent or stop expression which, by its content:

  • is itself illegal or advocates a clear and present danger of causing violence or illegal action;
  • advocates the physical harm, coercion, intimidation or other invasions of personal rights of individual USF students, faculty, staff, administrators or guests; or
  • advocates willful damage or destruction or seizure of University buildings or other property, or destruction of or interference with ongoing University classes, events or activities.

3. The University shall have the right to impose appropriate discipline upon any student whose expression goes beyond that which is protected hereunder and/or comes within the purview of activities outlined above.

4. The Committee on Student Freedoms and Responsibilities will convene to assess and respond to violations and/or student complaints regarding this policy. Committee representation will include faculty/staff from the Dean of Students, Student Leadership and Engagement, Public Safety, University Ministry, and one faculty member at-large.