Student Activity Planning and University Policies

Student Activism Protocol

California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) supports and promotes freedom of expression and assembly by students, faculty, staff, and the general public. The campus is interested in increasing the likelihood that such expressions and assemblies take place in a safe manner that preserves the rights of those participating in the activities as well as those impacted by them. Therefore, the President has charged the Division of Student Affairs with activist-related responsibilities that include (but are not limited to): providing proactive education and information to individual students and student organizations who express interest in organizing such activities; responding to such activities at the time that they occur/unfold on the campus; and partnering with other campus officials to increase the likelihood that such activities are aligned with “time, place, and manner” and other policies so that normal campus activities can concurrently proceed without disruption.

In assuming these responsibilities, the Division has created a Student Activism Education (SAE) Team. This team, constituted by the Vice President for Student Affairs, his/her designee(s), staff from Student Organizations & Leadership (SO&L), and others as appropriate, encourages student event coordinators to work with these entities in advance to plan and conduct safe events that allow them to express ideas in a positive, productive way that minimizes the risk of policy violation. Officials recognize that some of these events take place on a spontaneous and impromptu basis. Whether planned or unplanned, however, organizers and participants of such events are expected to comply with university policy and applicable state laws and regulations and will be held accountable for their actions and behaviors. Students who allegedly violate policies during a student activism event will be subject to the same student conduct process and possible sanctions as are any other students at any other time. As in all other situations, any student conduct process activated in response to these activities is separate from any possible criminal and/or legal proceedings.

The Vice President for Student Affairs or designee (henceforth referred to as VPSA) coordinates campus response to student activism and implements the following protocol as applicable in coordination with SO&L and the SAE Team.

The VPSA in conjunction with SO&L (and other units as applicable) routinely:

  1. Monitors common gathering places including the Library Quad and University Union, and assists students with options for carrying out their activity within campus time, place and manner regulations.
  2. Works, in advance of event (when possible and applicable), with registered student organizations in planning indoor and outdoor activities (including protests and rallies). Reviews basic event planning principles and applicable university policies that explain how to hold a safe event that respects the rights and responsibilities of all.
  3. Keeps appropriate campus officials informed of student plans.


The VPSA will:

  1. Receive information from campus colleagues regarding any anticipated student actions, not just those of registered student organizations.
  2. Inform President, campus police and appropriate officials about emerging plans and spontaneous developments (provides updates as plans solidify, activities unfold); requests standby support if appropriate.
  3. Determine and then activate the appropriate level of SAE Team presence. Maintain communication with team and keep other campus partners informed of new developments as necessary.
  4. Work with campus police (in the event of potentially disruptive activities), to determine who should intervene and/or advise event participants. Examples of potentially disruptive activities by individuals or groups include:
    1. Physically blocking and preventing speaker(s) from addressing audience at reserved events or preventing activity from proceeding at reserved events.
    2. Deliberately acting in a manner that violates express rules or implicit customs of a public meeting and substantially impairing the ability to conduct the meeting.
    3. Blocking building entrance/exit or pedestrian/vehicle traffic.
    4. Attempting to disrupt classes or university offices.
    5. Attempting to occupy (during and/or after normal business hours) any campus facility.
    6. Engaging in unlawful acts or posing clear and present danger or threat of violence.
  5. Follow existing protocols and utilizes existing systems for disseminating time-sensitive information (e.g. standard chain-of-command protocol, building coordinator network, ENS, etc.).


When appropriate and feasible the Student Activism Education Team will:

  1. Work with SO&L to offer students regularly scheduled and by request activism education workshops and/or consultations.
  2. Offer organizers suggestions on how to handle the crowd, counter-demonstrators and their own supporters. Advise counter demonstrators how to hold their activity without disrupting the event.
  3. Provide presence at student activities.
  4. Point out potential safety issues and policy violation risks.
  5. Accompany students with activities/events that move through campus (i.e. marches).
  6. Update (throughout the course of events) the VPSA and request, as necessary, additional support from campus police and others.
  7. Offer support and First Amendment education to students, faculty and staff who are offended by some speech or activity. Explain why the University does not suppress speech. Discuss student rights to express a dissenting opinion and ideas/options for such expression. Explain what constitutes acceptable behavior at indoor and outdoor events. Some behaviors might be considered disruptive if they prevent the audience from seeing or hearing a speaker, and/or if they disrupt other university activities.
  8. In the event of a disruptive group or individual, work with campus police to determine who will:
    1. Inform individual or group that their actions are disruptive to reserved event or campus business.
    2. Ask individual or group to cease the behavior considered disruptive.
    3. Direct them to change location, cease, or adjust activity.
    4. Remind them that administrative silence or perceived inactivity does not necessarily signal approval as prudent responses may take time and deliberation.
    5. Inform the individual or group that they are being directed under Policy X to do Y (i.e. under the amplified sound policy to cease disruptive noise-making activities), and that failure to comply with these directions is likely to result in a policy violation. When alleged noncompliance occurs, document the following:
      1. Name of individual and group (in these cases, it is a university policy violation for a student to refuse to identify him/herself to a university official)
      2. Time and location
      3. Behavior/actions that were considered disruptive
      4. Directives that were given to the individual group
      5. Any complaints from event sponsors
      6. Any comments that were directed toward staff
      7. How and when individuals or student groups have been informed that this information will be documented and referred to the Student Conduct Officer and/or Student Housing as appropriate for further review based on possible conduct and campus policy violations
  9. For non-compliance involving non-Sacramento State affiliates, work with campus police to follow steps 8.a-d above. Ask campus police to invoke appropriate penal codes.


The following University Policies may be relevant to students wishing to plan and sponsor campus such campus activities (this is a suggestive, not exhaustive list).

Last Update June 2011