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Office of Student Life

Freedom of Expression at UCSB

Student life at UC Santa Barbara is thriving. Our HUNDREDS of student-led organizations host THOUSANDS of exciting, though-provoking, community building, and developmental events each year. They celebrate academic achievement, promote career development, illuminate world cultures, serve our local and global communities, protect the environment, emphasize healthy behaviors, provide space to explore religion and spirituality, bring the arts to life and—last but certainly not least—forge solidarity and friendship among Gauchos.

You will notice many of these registered campus organizations tabling in our free speech areas located in front of the UCen and in the Arbor area. Non-campus affiliates use these areas to table as well. You may see commercial vendors, information tables, and not for profit groups sharing their products and or their views and beliefs on religious/spiritual, social, and political issues. These groups are held to campus regulations and are required to follow policy that includes no selling of items, no amplification in the Arbor area, and not blocking the pedestrian walkway.

The concept of Freedom of Expression and our expectations of the UCSB community was thoroughly addressed in a recent communication to the campus. Some highlights include: "We believe that it is imperative that the UCSB community be engaged in discussions about current issues. This is precisely the function of a University—to create critical thinkers, and to test both our own beliefs and those of others. Thoughts and opinions will vary, but we are all Gauchos, and all Gauchos have the right to physical safety. Regardless of your opinions, identity, or beliefs, you should never be the subject of physical abuse, threats of violence, stalking, harassment, or intimidation. Such acts are violations of campus policies and may also constitute violations of the law. Students who engage in violence or threats of violence are not exercising free speech and, if found responsible, may be subject to University sanctions. However, University policies and the law do not protect us from being offended or from feeling uncomfortable with opposing views. The University supports you in challenging speech or expression you find offensive by exercising your own free speech rights, but we encourage and promote civility and respect in every exchange. The University does not, and cannot, censor content, but we can facilitate alternative events, programs, or expressions proposed by other members of the UCSB community which are conducted within our regulations." The full letter can be found on the Division of Student Affairs website.

Following are the Principles of Community, also found on the Division of Student Affairs website.

Principles of Community

The University of California, Santa Barbara is a leading research institution that also provides a comprehensive liberal arts learning experience. Our academic community of faculty, students, and staff is characterized by a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration that is responsive to the needs of our multicultural and global society.

RESPECT AND CONSIDERATION in interaction with others

The real test of this value comes when we encounter people whose backgrounds, beliefs, and worldviews differ from our own. If your educational experience is all that it should be, you will graduate prepared to navigate a society that comprises many different kinds of people. You will also graduate having seen and understood different worldviews, and will perhaps expand your own. These are the key skills of the new century, and your education will be incomplete if you graduate without these abilities. 

Mutual respect is a non-negotiable. What this means is that there are some boundaries that should not be crossed. Intolerant and disrespectful behavior, especially regarding race, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, and religion, compromises our sense of community and our ability to live and learn together. 

INTEGRITY in academic pursuits 

In an institution where the search for knowledge and truth is the primary goal, integrity in teaching, learning, research, and scholarship is paramount. Dishonesty undermines our common missions. This translates into the obvious: write your own papers, take your own tests, do your own work. 

FREE, OPEN, AND RESPECTFUL
 exchange of ideas

Our community requires the respectful exchange of ideas. People should be passionate about what they believe and how they express that belief, but they must also be civil in both word and deed. This principle is particularly important when a community encompasses people who have different backgrounds, worldviews, etc. This is not about political correctness; it is about basic respect – about how people treat one another, not about what people think or believe. 

CONTRIBUTIONS to and participation in the community

We should all serve the campus and community while we are here. Contributing to the community can take the form of simply being a good citizen, being considerate of neighbors, cleaning up the campus and community, volunteering at a school or social service in town, or helping to raise money for charity.