Free Expression on Campus

Student Life / Campus Life Office / Free Expression on Campus
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Freedom of expression and speech are principles the University is committed to upholding. The university will allow speech by individuals or groups on campus to continue to be exercised unless such speech or demonstration threatens the safety of others or the normal operation of the University activities.

Student Activism and Demonstrations

Student activism can take many forms as methods to exercise your voice regarding important issues and causes.  We encourage students to be thoughtful when planning activism (e.g. demonstrations, peaceful protests, tabling or canvassing), and the Office of Campus Life is here to help.

Students planning demonstrations are strongly urged to read key policies including the Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination (AHND) Policy, Student Event Management Policy, Posting Policy, and Student Code of Social Conduct, and to consult with the Office of Campus Life staff and Public Safety to ensure awareness of their protected rights, Rider University policies, and the availability of campus resources to support the safe exercise of protected rights.

The following offices may be contacted for assistance:

  • Campus Life - (609) 896-5327
  • Public Safety - (609) 896-5029

Additional Resource:

  • Legal Affairs and General Counsel - (609) 896-5000 x7275

Demonstration Guidelines

While Rider University does not regulate the content of speech it can set forth reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. Rider University necessarily reserves the right to limit, disallow or disband a demonstration which incites immediate or imminent violent action or represents a clear and present danger to the campus community, or in cases where the demonstration disrupts class work or other University business, involves substantial disorder, obstructs roadways which may inhibit access for emergency vehicles, or infringes on the rights of others.

Types of Coordination

Students are encouraged to plan ahead for demonstrations and activities so staff can assist in assuring the efforts align with University policies and protocols.  Rider University recognizes, however, that not every student demonstration effort can be coordinated with advance planning.  If advanced planning is infeasible, all related activities should be executed in ways that comply with University policies outlined in this policy.

Student Clubs and Organizations Sponsored Demonstrations: Rider University Student Government Association recognized clubs and organizations are permitted to reserve spaces on campus and coordinate events as outlined in the Student Event Management Policy.  Clubs and organizations are encouraged to meet with Campus Life and Public Safety staff members early in their planning to coordinate their activities.  If a student organization is planning a demonstration that would take place outside of the standard Event Management Policy timeline, they are asked to contact Campus Life and Public Safety staff early in their planning process.

Respect for Others

Respect for the dignity and rights of the individual is expected of all persons. Rider student community members shall not discriminate against any other community member for reasons of race, religion, color, sex, pregnancy, residence, creed, ethnicity, national origin (including ancestry), citizenship status, physical or mental disability (including perceived disability), age, marital status, family responsibility, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran or military status, predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, or any other protected category under applicable local, state, or federal law.     

Counter Demonstrations

A protest, demonstration, or event on campus may invite another form of protest, including counter-protest. When these occasions arise, all parties have a right to expression that must not be obstructed. In the interest of community safety and protection of rights, the University may designate a separate protest area(s) for counter protestors. Counter protestors may share different messages and require multiple locations. It is encouraged that any planned counter protests contact Public Safety to coordinate an identified location(s) for the activity. As with demonstrations, counter-demonstrations must not infringe upon the rights of others to engage in peaceful assembly, orderly protest, free exchange of ideas, or interfere with the rights of others to make use of campus facilities or attend university functions. This includes, but is not limited to, not damaging, defacing, marking, altering, or interfering with signs, tables or exhibits, or other items posted or displayed by others.

Space Reservation and Posting Policy

Rider utilizes the 25Live online scheduling program to manage all space on campus.  All requests to reserve space must be submitted online via 25Live.  All reservations must be processed through the Scheduling Office.

The Scheduling Coordinator is available to answer questions and assist you.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 609-896-5326

Posting of information in University buildings and on campus grounds is limited to designated areas.  Rider University’s posting policy can be found here

The Role of University Public Safety

The primary role of Rider University Public Safety is to ensure the safety of the campus community. Public Safety supports community members to exercise guaranteed rights and is committed to working with students, student groups, and student organizations to provide education and consultation on University policies, applicable laws, and safety and security procedures.  Rider University Public Safety staff is available to meet with students to discuss issues and concerns that may arise before or after a demonstration.

Any demonstration that violates University policy may be discontinued at the direction of Rider University Public Safety or at the direction of the administrator (or his/her designee) of the University unit administratively responsible for the space in which the demonstration is occurring. If a demonstration is dispersed by Rider University Public Safety, demonstrators must comply with directions and leave the immediate area.

Ensuring a Productive Demonstration

To help ensure that all participants stay safe, student clubs and organizations planning to host demonstrations are required to follow Rider University Guidelines for campus scheduling and reserve their gathering location using 25Live two weeks in advance of the event date and complete the Student Event Registration Process. The organizers will be asked to present a description of their event and outline of the walking route, if applicable.  The event description and route will be reviewed by the Special Events Committee for approval to address any potential safety issues and for organizers to create safety and security procedures.  Rider University Public Safety may be present at a demonstration, protest, or event to ensure the safety of all participants and provide a more immediate response in the event of an emergency.

Organizers are strongly encouraged to inform attendees of the Rider University Student Code of Social Conduct and consequences for failure to adhere to its expectations. To support overall demonstration coordination and safety for participants, sponsoring clubs and organizations must have at least one executive board representative present throughout the demonstration and if applicable, an advisor. Be aware that some participants may have physical challenges that require assistance. Student Accessibility and Support Services can provide advice on accommodating participants with disabilities or mobility challenges.

Additional Resource: PEN AMERICA - How to Plan a Peaceful Protest