Student voices and opinions are valued at USC. As part of the First Amendment and Leonard Law, students have the right to peacefully and lawfully demonstrate (or protest) on campus in support of or opposition to an issue.

According to the university’s policies regarding demonstrations, situational factors play a part in what behavior and speech is acceptable given the time, place, and manner. As part of USC’s commitment to scholarly inquiry, education, and the safety of the community, and in order to maintain normal USC activities such as the learning environment of students during class time, the maintenance of research data and facilities and other business activities, it is important to make sure that your demonstration does NOT:

  • Take place outside of the normal operating hours of the location of the demonstration or event;
  • Interfere with classes or other scheduled academic, educational, cultural/arts programs, or with use of USC’s libraries or facilities;
  • Use signs that could be weaponized against others, including wooden sign-posts;
  • Obstruct the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic or circulation;
  • Involve the posting of signs, posters, boards, paper, or other forms of communication on any surface on property owned by USC, except on kiosks that the university makes available for postings;
  • Interfere with or disrupt the orderly conduct of USC’s business;
  • Create unreasonable noise disruptive of normal USC activities;
  • Violate any federal, state, or local safety code (including with respect to building occupancy), such as regulations set by the fire marshal.
  • If protesting indoors, do not use signs or banners to prevent the audience from seeing the speaker or presentation or to otherwise disrupt the audience’s ability to hear, see and interact with the speaker.

USC has the right to designate areas for demonstrations to protect public safety, and certain areas on campus are considered restricted areas because demonstrations could compromise individual safety or violate laws, regulations, or USC policies relating to research safety. The First Amendment also respects the rights of the university to place reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on the exercise of free speech to prevent the disruption of its operations, to ensure order and safety and to protect property. For planning, coordination, and safety reasons, students should reserve a space with Trojan Event Services (TES) prior to their demonstration. Without a reservation, the university may not be able to accommodate your event due to other scheduled activities or safety considerations. If you wish to hold a demonstration less than two weeks out, please reach out to TES via the email and/or call 213-740-6728. Once the time and place are confirmed, TES will reach out with next steps, including but not limited to submitting a University Event Permit Application and Reaching out to notify necessary parties of intended demonstration.

We also encourage you to meet with a Student Life staff member in Campus Activities to offer you guidance in the coordination and planning for your demonstration and to address issues of safety, goals, and potential concerns. We’ve included the guide below to help cover the basics of planning an on-campus demonstration.

Planning a demonstration:

Develop Your Plan:

Student demonstration organizers are encouraged to meet with Campus Activities staff to discuss the following:

  • Event logistics
  • Timeline
  • Safety, security, and crowd management procedures
  • Mutual understanding of expectations, rights, and responsibilities, including staying within the designated areas for the demonstration if one has been established
  • Responsibility for behavior of organization’s members and off-campus guests

Students should be familiar with USC’s Statement on Free Speech and the policies for Demonstrations, Violence-Free Campus, and the USC Event, Gatherings and Tailgate Fencing Policy.

Keep the Peace:

University personnel will be present at demonstrations to ensure organizers rights are protected, the university’s regular and essential operations and activities continue, and the safety of the university community is not compromised. Student Life Free Expression team members serve as neutral facilitators, maintaining a safe environment for dissenters to freely express their voices and opinions, while providing event organizers space to host an event without disruption.

Peaceful protest dos and don'ts