Application of Freedom of Expression Policies on Demonstrations

CMC is committed to protect the freedom of expression, including peaceful demonstration. Thus, the clarification and understanding of current policies and how they apply to demonstrations on our campus is essential for members of our community, The Claremont Colleges, and the general public.

A number of College policies and The Claremont Colleges Policy on Demonstrations both protect peaceful assembly and expression and prohibit interference with the exercise of such freedoms by others on our campus.

No set of policies or clarifications can address every scenario. Thus, we urge anyone who plans on participating in a demonstration, protest, or assembly of any kind to review our answers to these frequently asked questions and to contact CMC’s administration in advance to resolve any policy questions and to discuss safety or security concerns.

Within The Claremont Colleges, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to reach out to the offices of the CMC Dean of Students, CMC Dean of the Faculty, or CMC Human Resources, as appropriate. Members of the public are encouraged to reach out to CMC’s General Counsel’s Office. Each office can provide helpful guidance.

What do we mean by “demonstration?”
  • The term is used broadly and intended to cover activities including rallies, assemblies, protests, and other gatherings of people joined together to express views on a particular issue. Participating with the group’s activities is sufficient to qualify as participation in a demonstration, even if an individual does not hold the same beliefs as the group.
When the policies say “material disruption” or “non-peaceable,” and also talks about infringements on the rights or freedoms of others, threatening property or public safety, or “impeding” the business of the College, what exactly is prohibited or allowed?
  • It is not possible to make a complete or exhaustive list of allowable or prohibited activities. In sum, those seeking to engage in a protest are charged with understanding and respecting the responsibility of the College to protect its community members, campus, and normal operations. In cases of any doubt, discussing plans for demonstration activities in advance with College administrators is the single best way to comply with policy. Some examples of prohibited activities are included in The Claremont Colleges Policy on Demonstrations. Below are additional examples that apply in a variety of contexts.
How can demonstrations best avoid “materially disruptive” actions?
  • A demonstration may not prevent, foreclose, or interfere with teaching, research, administration, or other authorized activities on campus. For instance, no one may block the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the campus or access into or out of campus buildings or parking lots.
What are examples of interfering with the rights of others?
  • Free expression cannot impede the rights of others in our community. For example, noise levels that interfere with the ability of others to exercise their own freedoms of assembly, expression, or listening is prohibited. No one may attempt to coerce any other person into viewing, listening to, or accepting a copy of any communication. No person may persist in requesting or demanding the attention of any other person after that other person has attempted to move away or has clearly refused to engage. For instance, if a person has repeatedly refused to take a pamphlet, throwing the pamphlet at the person would interfere with his or her rights.
What are examples of conduct that threatens public safety?
  • Bypassing fencing or crossing other designated areas, lines, or barriers that are physical or marked by the presence of College representatives or Campus Safety Officers.
  • Possessing or displaying weapons or replica weapons on any part of the campus except in the limited exceptions set forth in the Safe Campus Policy.
What are examples of impermissible activities that may threaten CMC’s campus safety and property
  • Activity that damages, defaces, marks, discolors, or alters in any way the College’s property or any person’s property, including any signs, tables, or exhibits;
  • Camping on the College’s campus;
  • Climbing upon or rappelling down any College tree, building, or property; or
  • Occupation of College facilities that blocks or restricts points of safe ingress or egress to a College facility or event (whether blocking from the inside or outside of a facility or event).
What can I do if someone is engaging in an activity on campus that interferes with my rights, including my right to come and go freely?
  • Report potential policy violations to the nearest College representative or Campus Safety Officer or by contacting Campus Safety:
    • By cell or off-campus phone: 909-607-2000 or 909-607-7233
    • By on-campus extension: 7-2000 or 7-2333
  • Individuals may not use or attempt to use force against another person.
Is a demonstration consistent with policy as long as it does not include physical violence?
  • No. The absence of violence does not necessarily mean compliance with policy. Many activities, including those detailed above, are materially disruptive or interfere with the rights of others.
Is a direct order to disperse at the time of a demonstration a necessary pre-condition for concluding a policy has been violated?
  • No. Members of our community (and others) are expected to know and abide by all College policies. Claremont McKenna College does not believe a direct order to disperse is a necessary precondition to determine a policy violation on our campus.
Are 7C community members permitted to engage in demonstrations on CMC’s campus?
  • Yes. In recognition of the free exchange across the Claremont campuses, students, faculty, and staff from The Claremont Colleges are generally allowed on CMC’s campus to engage in peaceful, non-disruptive demonstrations. However, to protect the safety, property, and normal operation of our programs, CMC reserves the right to limit access to its campus or portions of its campus to CMC community members only. CMC also reserves the right to request a non-CMC community member to leave the campus when a CMC or CUC official has determined that the person is violating College policies. If a person refuses to leave after being warned, that person is subject to a trespass citation, possible arrest, and a possible ban from CMC’s campus consistent with The Claremont Colleges Policy on Banning Disruptive Persons.
Do members of the public have a right to engage in demonstrations on CMC’s campus?
  • No. We do not permit members of the public to engage in demonstrations on our campus without our express consent.
  • As one of several colleges located in a dynamic city with engaged citizens, we deeply value the larger community’s involvement in, and contributions to, campus life. Our campus is more vibrant and our students benefit, when those outside our campus share, teach, learn, visit, and support our educational and athletic endeavors, as they often do when they audit classes, cheer at athletic competitions, and attend public celebrations and events at the Athenaeum or academic conferences.
  • However, in order to protect our engagement with the public and the safety of our community, members of the public must contact the Dean of Students Office at least one week prior to any demonstration activities for permission as well as to receive the conduct guidelines they must follow while on our campus. Again, any time we need to protect the freedoms and safety of our community, we will limit access to our campus or portions of our campus to CMC community members only (or 7C community members only). We reserve the right to request a member of the public to leave the campus at any time and for any reason. If a person refuses to leave after being asked, that person is subject to a trespass citation and possible arrest.
Can CMC set up specific areas for demonstrations to take place, or require demonstrators to stay a certain distance away from entrances or exits to buildings?
  • Yes. Depending on security needs, the College may require demonstrators to avoid a certain area or limit the areas in which demonstrations may occur. Participants in demonstrations must abide by any written or verbal instructions given in this regard.
Can CMC document through video and other means the conduct of participants in a demonstration?
  • Yes. Documenting a demonstration provides protection both for those participating as evidence of peaceful activity and the College as evidence of any violation of policy, and is helpful for holding both participants and the College accountable for compliance with all policies.
Can CMC limit the type of objects used during a demonstration?
  • Objects normally permitted on campus may be prohibited when used in a manner that violates other polices (e.g., when the use of a permitted object creates a hostile environment or is used in a threatening manner). If a CMC or CUC official determines that an object is being used in violation of College policy, demonstrators will be required to comply with whatever orders are given for the disposition of the item.
Does everyone have to provide photographic identification to a CMC or CUC official upon request during events, including demonstrations?
  • Yes. 7C community members may be asked for school-issued identification at any time, including demonstrations, by College or CUC officials to confirm that the person is a member of the community and has the ability to be on CMC’s campus. Students, specifically, are obligated through the Student Code of Conduct to identify themselves when asked to do so by a CMC or CUC official. Members of the public may also be asked for identification.
Are there any portions of CMC’s campus that are off limits to demonstrations?
  • Yes. Demonstrations may only occur in outdoor areas of the campus that are generally accessible to members of the public.
  • It is important to clarify, however, that Claremont-Mudd-Scripps athletic fields or facilities, are not open to the public, and therefore are not open for demonstrations. These fields or facilities include Arce Baseball Field, Axelrood Aquatics Center, Biszantz Family Tennis Center, Burns Stadium, Burns Track Complex, Golf Facility/Pickleball Court, Hammer Throw, Pritzlaff Field, Softball Field, and Zinda Field.
Do these College commitments to freedom of expression and other civil rights extend to applicants (including those already accepted and those under consideration)?
  • Yes. Freedom of Expression is a core value and principle of the College. We expect high schools to enforce the same values. We seek to admit students who embrace our commitment to vigorous, respectful debate of opposing viewpoints and effective dialogue on the most controversial issues.
  • In cases of a student self-reporting (as required on our application) prior conduct sanctions of any nature, we follow our normal protocol to review the matter and consider the student's overall character, the reason for the conduct sanction, and the student's explanation of their behavior. In this specific, hypothetical context, the College would be further guided by our core commitment to the freedom of expression.
Does the College have guidelines related to expressive activities on campus? 
Does the College respond to campus incidents involving alleged violations of its policies related to demonstrations and other forms of permissible expressive activity?
  • Yes. Alleged violations involving members of the CMC community are referred to the appropriate disciplinary process, including the Code of Conduct for Students. Depending upon the circumstances and the severity of the misconduct, potential sanctions could include suspension or expulsion. Alleged violations involving individuals from one of the other  Claremont Colleges will be referred to the individual’s respective campus. If other 5C students are found responsible for policy violations, they may be subject to being banned from the CMC campus. An example of how CMC recently applied this policy can be found here.

Does targeting individuals or groups for terrorist acts, genocides, murders, ethnic cleansings, or other violent acts violate College policy?
  • Yes.

Does the College respond to campus incidents involving allegations of hate?
  • Yes. The College responds to all reports or complaints of incidents involving allegations of hate in a fair, neutral, and appropriate manner based on its relevant polices, including those related to discrimination and harassment and, if applicable, threats. 

Do all expressions of hate violate College policies?
  • No. CMC’s commitment to the protection of freedom of expression and academic freedom means that expressions of hate violate policy when they violate the Civil Rights Policy (such expressions may implicate harassment) or Student Code of Conduct (such expressions may constitute intimidation). Please consult these policies for their definitions as to what constitutes harassment and intimidation. Regardless of whether such conduct is found to violate College policies, the College provides appropriate supportive resources to impacted individuals. 

What other College policies should I read before deciding to engage in a demonstration so that I make sure to comply with other rules?
  • CMC has several policies that provide guidance on free expression in the context of College obligations to provide a secure and orderly educational and residential environment for all. For example:
    • The Student Code of Conduct prohibits speech or expressive conduct that materially disrupts college operations, threatens injury, or presents false information to College officials.
    • The Civil Rights Handbook prohibits, among other things, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and stalking.
    • The Hazing Policy prohibits conduct that causes or is reasonably likely to cause another student to suffer bodily danger, physical harm, or significant personal degradation or humiliation.
    • The Safe Campus Policy prohibits violence, threats of violence, and weapons or replica weapons.
    • The Residential Life Policies set Quiet Hours that prohibit excessive noise during certain hours.
    • The Posting and Advertising Policy regulates how and where materials can be posted on the campus.
  • CMC also has policies for staff and faculty that regulate speech or expressive conduct in order to provide a safe and orderly work environment for all. For example:
    • The Staff Handbook states that all employees must comply with all legal and ethical obligations, prohibits violence or threats of violence, and expects employees to follow a Standard of Conduct.
    • The Rules of Conduct require employees to treat one another with dignity and respect. The Rules also impose other restrictions, such as employees not engaging in threatening, coercive, or intimidating behavior or falsifying records.
    • The Civil Rights Handbook prohibits among other things, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and stalking.
  • The foregoing links and explanations in these FAQs provide a representative, non-exhaustive list of CMC policy that supports the right to free expression in a secure educational and residential community.