Free Speech Resources and Policies

Helpful links, letters, policies and videos.

First Amendment rights and civil disobedience at EWU

EWU is committed to supporting civil expression and respecting First Amendment rights. We encourage all students to stay informed regarding our policies, how to report issues of concern, and to reach out if you need additional support.

The First Amendment protects the right to dissent but not civil disobedience, which involves refusing to obey laws by violating them. In the U.S., we have the right to protest, assemble, petition against laws, and legally challenge them, but dissent becomes civil disobedience when it involves actions like taking over a campus building, disrupting classes, trespassing, vandalizing, or disturbing the peace.  The university may reasonably regulate the time, place and manner of speech to ensure it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the university. At EWU, these regulations balance encouraging diverse ideas and campus safety.

Resources, links and letters

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For EWU students

Get connected to resources for navigating free speech and combating hate speech, including the EWU Free Speech Card and FIRE videos.

Know the policy

For everyone

As a state university, EWU has specific rules and policies to follow. Learn more by reading EWU policies such as the Use of Outdoor Areas for First Amendment Activities and Political Activities.

CHeck out the video

What students should know about free speech.

This quick 2-minute video will help students to better understand Free Speech at EWU.

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EWU Obligations

We know free speech isn’t always free from harm.

Check out the tabs below for more information and resources.

Student Resources Website

The student resources website provides information on EWU Student Support Services, including Counseling & Wellness Services, the Dean of Students, the JLR Multicultural Center, Student Rights & Responsibilities, the EWU University Police Department, other resources, and a PDF on federal, state, and local laws surrounding freedom of speech.

Additional Offices for Support and Connection

Free Speech vs Hate Speech

To learn more about the difference between hate speech and free speech, visit this website. Hate speech, defined as expression intended to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group based on race, religion, skin color, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, or national origin, is generally protected by the First Amendment. Public universities, including EWU, must adhere to this protection but also have an obligation to create a safe, inclusive environment. Courts have ruled that expression cannot be punished based on content or viewpoint alone, but EWU can punish true threats, incitement to imminent lawless action, discriminatory harassment, or defamation.

EWU is committed to supporting civil expression and respecting First Amendment rights. When a demonstration is planned on campus, we will do our best to communicate through social media, sandwich boards, and other means. If you pass through the demonstration area, remember to practice self-care and adhere to EWU policies. Staff will monitor the situation, and EWU Police will provide support when necessary. If you are harmed or physically threatened, call 911 for immediate assistance. The First Amendment protects the right to dissent but not civil disobedience, such as taking over buildings, disrupting classes, trespassing, vandalizing, or disturbing the peace. EWU protects the freedom to dissent and raises awareness that civil disobedience can result in serious charges. Incitement of imminent lawlessness, including threats, fighting words, and disruptive conduct, is not protected. Time, place, and manner regulations must be content-neutral, narrowly tailored, and provide alternative means of expression, balancing diverse ideas and campus safety.

Are you looking to host a demonstration on campus? Submit a form here.

Need to report an incident? Submit a bias report here.