download New Primer from EDI
“Free Speech on Campus: The Basics, the Myths, the Challenges” [pdf]


Free speech is critical to every democracy’s health and longevity. The same goes for higher education, where freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry form bedrock principles central to our mission to pursue knowledge and understanding.

But translating theoretical principles into real-world practice is messy. One reason is because freedom of speech is both made possible by and limited by other rights and values, such as equality. On the one hand, freedom of speech requires equality. For example, what genuine freedom of speech is there if the most marginalized and dissenting cannot join the conversation? On the other hand, freedom of speech can undermine equality? For example, what if a speaker mocks, harasses, or intimidates certain groups, which interferes with their ability to learn in the classroom? What then should universities do?

Protests are an inevitable and constitutionally protected part of campus life.  How does UCLA respond in real time while balancing the twin goals of freedom-of-speech and freedom-to-protest?  This and more in EDI’s new Free Speech FAQs.

None of this easy. And caricatures, strawpersons, and ad hominems don’t help. But the point of a university is to struggle with the most challenging issues of our times. We invite you to engage with us in this struggle, as we explore some law, consider some arguments, and think through our disagreements. In other words, join us as we muddle through, in good faith.

This page will archive what we think to be helpful in our journey. This isn’t legal advice. It’s not even meant as official University policy. It’s instead the start of a public conversation.  We’ll keep this page updated with new and relevant content, but please exercise your speech rights and let us know what you think. Dissenting voices are welcome. Really. Or if you just have a valuable resource that we’ve overlooked, please let us know at WeListen@equity.ucla.edu (please include “Free Speech on Campus” in the email’s subject line).

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