UC IRVINE ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

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Sec. 900-23: Interim UCI Guidance Concerning Disruption of University Activities

Issued: December 2018

This document is provided to the UCI community to:

  1. interpret the term “disruption” in Section 102.13 of the University of California Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations and Students (“PACAOS 102.13”) and in similar contexts;
  2. detail how the UCI community can prevent and will respond to disruptions of University activities in real time; and
  3. detail the potential consequences for disrupting University activities.

This guidance applies to any UCI student, employee or non-affiliate on UCI property or at a University activity (see Part IV “Consequences for Disrupting,” below).

A. Free Speech and Disruption

Freedom of speech is a bedrock value of our constitutional system and is at the core of UCI’s mission – through teaching, research and public service – to generate knowledge and encourage individuals to develop the capacity for independent judgment. UCI cannot and will not deny speakers access to campus venues because of their views. Similarly, UCI cannot and will not allow disruptions of teaching, research, learning, administration, disciplinary procedures or other University activities, including events hosted by students or student groups (collectively, “University Activities”).

In this context, disruption means undue interference with any University Activity. In the case of a University Activity that involves a speaker, disruption means undue interference with the ability of the speaker to deliver, or the audience to receive, the speaker’s message.

When a speaker has been invited to speak, UCI may impose appropriate time, place or manner restrictions on speech and is obligated and committed to acting reasonably to ensure that the speaker is able to safely and effectively address the audience, free from violence or disruption. UCI will take every reasonable action to protect all members of the campus community and their invited guests and speakers from efforts to silence them through disruptive activities.

At the same time, because no view or message is beyond criticism, UCI will always ensure that members of the campus community can peacefully protest and express condemnation of views with which they disagree. However, freedom of speech does not give protestors the right to drown out the words and speech of others; freedom of speech would mean little if an audience were able to silence anyone with whom it disagreed.

This guidance is designed to prevent disruption of University Activities, protect lawful access to campus programs and facilities, avoid unsafe behavior and prevent physical harm to person or property. Its application does not vary according to the cause or content of a particular protest, speech or other form of expression.

B. Disruption Under PACAOS 102.13

PACAOS 102.13 provides that “Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities” can be grounds for discipline (emphasis added). While UCI protects all protected forms of speech and protest, the disruption of University Activities can subject students to disciplinary proceedings pursuant to PACAOS and can be the basis for consequences imposed on UCI employees and non-affiliates (see Part IV “Consequences for Disrupting,” below).

  1. The following factors weigh in favor of a finding that conduct is disruption of a University Activity:
    1. Whether the conduct unduly interfered with the speaker’s or presenter’s ability to deliver the speaker’s or presenter’s message.
    2. Whether the conduct unduly interfered with the audience’s ability to receive the speaker’s or presenter’s message.
    3. Whether the conduct was loud enough to unduly interfere with the audience’s ability to hear the speaker or presenter.
    4. Whether the conduct unduly interfered with any person’s ability to participate in a University Activity.
    5. Whether the conduct was violent or involved a threat of violence.
    6. Whether the speech or conduct incited an immediate breach of the peace.
    7. Whether the conduct and its effect lasted long enough, either in total and/or in comparison to any University Activity it may have affected, to unduly interfere with that University Activity.
    8. Whether the conduct stopped if and when a request to stop was addressed to the individual or group engaging in the conduct.
    9. Whether the conduct caused physical harm to person or damage to property.
    10. Whether the conduct was coordinated with others’ conduct in such a way that it caused a cumulative effect that unduly interfered with a University Activity.
    11. Whether the conduct was intentionally aimed at unduly interfering with a University Activity.
    12. Whether the conduct unduly interfered with ingress or egress of pedestrians or of any form of traffic.
    13. Whether the conduct unduly interfered with others’ access to University Activities.
  2. The following factors may be considered in determining appropriate discipline, if it is determined that the conduct was a disruption:
    1. Whether the individual or group engaging in the conduct has been previously counseled or disciplined in connection with disruption of University Activities.
    2. Whether the conduct had a serious adverse effect on participants in the University Activity, as evidenced by, for example, whether those affected submitted complaints about the conduct.
    3. Whether the individual or group engaging in the conduct has since taken steps to mitigate or compensate for the negative consequences of the conduct to affected individuals or to the institution.
  3. In the context of an event with a speaker or presenter, this definition is not meant to eliminate the usual range of human reactions commonly displayed by an audience during heated discussions of controversial topics. Nor should it prevent various expressions of protest, including heckling that does not prevent the speaker from delivering the speaker’s message or the silent display of signs that do not block the audience’s view, so long as these activities allow the speech to continue and the speaker to communicate to the audience.
  4. Examples:
    1. The following conduct likely is not a disruption:
      1. Holding an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper in front of one’s body.
      2. Engaging with the speaker if the speaker chooses to engage, understanding that the speaker can decide to stop engaging at any point.
      3. Wearing clothing with words or images on it, unless those words or images are themselves unprotected speech.
      4. Silently kneeling.
    2. The following conduct likely is a disruption:
      1. Deliberately blocking the audience’s view of the speaker or presenter.
      2. Producing noise with the intent to prevent the speaker or presenter from being heard.
      3. Using laser pointers.
      4. Turning off the lights in the venue without the speaker’s or event organizer’s consent.
      5. Intentionally setting off alarms, on phones or otherwise.
      6. Displaying facsimile weapons.

C. Preventing and Responding to Disruptions in Real Time

  1. Preventing:

    If the University or the sponsor of an event has actual knowledge that planned protests could disrupt an event, a UCI representative or a representative of the sponsor should make the following (or a similar) announcement when the event begins:

    • Hello. My name is _______ [name and title].
    • Thank you for attending this event. UCI respects and values freedom of speech, including the lawful freedom to protest.
    • Protest is welcome so long as it does not unduly interfere with the ability of the speaker to deliver the message or the ability of the audience to receive the speaker’s message.
    • A protestor whose actions interfere in this manner will be warned. If the protestor continues to interfere, the protestor will be escorted out and will be held accountable under relevant
    • University policies.
    • Our goal is to have a peaceful and respectful event.
    • Thank you.

    The announcement should be consistent, in substance and delivery, regardless of the identity of the speaker(s) or the protestor(s) or of the content or the viewpoints to be expressed at the event.

  2. Responding:

    If unexpected protests occur once the event has begun, a UCI representative or a representative of the sponsor should pause the event and read the above statement.

    If the protest continues, UCI representatives should proceed according to UCI’s constructive engagement model and in compliance with the recommendations, particularly recommendation 9 of the Robinson/Edley Report Twelve-Month Implementation Report.

    The overriding goal of the University or sponsor’s representative during a disruption should be to reestablish with deliberate speed an atmosphere conducive to communication between the speaker and the audience, in order to ensure full respect for the rights of all parties.

D. Consequences For Disrupting

This guidance may be used to determine whether the conduct by any individual or group, whether UCI student, employee or non-affiliate, constitutes disruption under applicable policy/ies. Any consequences imposed for disruption will: (1) be imposed only after a procedure that affords the alleged disrupter due process and in a content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral manner; and (2) focus on disruption of a University Activity and not on the viewpoint of the alleged disrupter.

  1. Students:

    Students whose conduct constitutes disruption can be disciplined under PACAOS 102.13. (Other conduct in which the student may have engaged while disrupting (e.g., property damage, unauthorized entry, physical abuse, harassment) may be sanctioned under other provisions of PACAOS.) This guidance may be consulted in any such process.

  2. Staff:

    Staff whose conduct constitutes disruption can be disciplined under applicable University personnel policies. This guidance may be consulted in any such process.

  3. Faculty or Other Academic Appointees:

    Faculty or other academic appointees whose conduct constitutes disruption can be disciplined under applicable Academic Personnel policies and Senate rules. This guidance may be consulted in any such process.

  4. Non-Affiliates:

    Non-affiliates whose conduct constitutes disruption can be asked to leave campus (pursuant to California Penal Code § 626.4, UCI Section 900-20: Withdrawal of Consent to Remain on Campus-Policy and UCI Section 900-21: Withdrawal of Consent to Remain on Campus-Procedures) and/or referred to law enforcement for violation of the Regulations Governing Conduct of Non-Affiliates in the Buildings and on the Grounds of the University of California (Cal. Code Regs. Tit. V, Div. 10, Chap. 1, §§ 100000-100015) or of other applicable law. This guidance may be consulted in any such process.