University of Southern California

SCampus Student Guidebook

University Governance

D. Free Expression and Dissent

D.1 Policy

The University of Southern California is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged and celebrated and for which all its members share responsibility. Dissent (defined as disagreement, a difference of opinion, or thinking differently from others) is an integral aspect of expression in higher education, whether it manifests itself in a new and differing theory in quantum mechanics, a personal disagreement with a current foreign policy, opposition to a position taken by the university itself, or by some other means.

The university is a diverse community based on free exchange of ideas and devoted to the use of reason and thought in the resolution of differences. Whether in free debate or in the exchange of information, this community must rely on self-restraint and self-discipline if it is to retain its freedom to search and question. However, when self-restraint and self-discipline fail, the university will initiate such action as necessary to prevent disruption of or substantial interference with its community and to preserve the rights of its individual members.

The university’s position is set forth in the following statement on Student Rights and Responsibilities:

“Students and student organizations shall be free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinion publicly and privately. They shall be free to support causes by all orderly means which do not disrupt or substantially interfere with the regular and essential operations and activities of the university, since such disruption or substantial interference violates the responsible exercise of free inquiry and expression. Students and organizations shall make it clear to the academic and larger communities that in their public expression they speak only for themselves.”

If any student member of the university community believes that the university has acted in an arbitrary, capricious or discriminatory manner in exercising the Policy on Free Expression and Dissent (or its related policies), he or she may submit a formal grievance as outlined in the Student Grievance Procedures.


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