Freedom of Speech


This policy outlines UCSF’s position on freedom of thought, inquiry, speech and lawful assembly, and on protests and civil disobedience.

  1. In the United States, all people have the right to free speech and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
    As such, freedom of thought, inquiry, speech and lawful assembly are fundamental rights of all persons. These rights include the freedom to express opinions; to hear, express, debate and support various views, no matter how unpopular; and to voice criticism. Free speech is uniquely important to the University as it brings about a free interchange of ideas integral to the University’s fundamental mission of teaching, research and public service.
  2. Protests and civil disobedience have played a historic role on the University campuses and in bringing important and beneficial changes within society. 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, threaten public safety or University assets in ways that require the University to act to protect those interests.

Contact Police Department with any questions or visit the Policies, Compliance & Guidelines page on the UCSF Student Academic Affairs website.