University Values

University Values

USC is committed to protecting free speech and academic freedom, in compliance with state and federal law and university policy. The university’s policies on students’ right to free speech are set forth in the USC Student Handbook, and the university’s policies on academic freedom more generally are set forth in the Faculty Handbook.

The legitimate expression of differing opinions and concerns, including unpopular, controversial or dissident viewpoints, is an essential element of the academic process.  All members of the university community have a responsibility to provide and maintain an atmosphere of free inquiry and expression respecting the fundamental human rights of others, the rights of others based upon the nature of the educational process, and the rights of the institution. 

The USC Student Commitment is a statement of values that our students aspire to meet.  Speech may be legally protected and therefore not subject to discipline under the Code of Conduct, but nevertheless inconsistent with the Student Commitment.  We ask and encourage our students to be thoughtful about how their written and verbal comments, regardless of whether they are legally protected or not, could affect other members of the campus community.  Read more about the Student Commitment at the link below.

Leonard Law

Learn more about California’s Leonard Law and how it relates to the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Defining Free Speech

Learn more about protected and unprotected speech, hate speech, and the university’s statement on controversial speakers.