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University reiterates campus policies and expectations for campus events

The following guidance was issued on November 16, 2023. Please visit our Well-Being, Safety, and Campus Events page for the latest University guidelines and campus protocols.

Review the current guidance

In recognition that members of the University of Rochester community have strongly held viewpoints regarding the heartbreaking conflict between Israel and Hamas in and near Gaza, we think it is important to reiterate several policies and expectations for events and activities that take place on campus. These long-standing policies have been enacted to allow freedom of expression while providing for the daily activities of the University in a safe environment.

We remind all members of the community that they are expected to abide by University codes of conduct and policies regarding campus resources and activities.

We do so balancing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to peacefully assemble and to express their views and calls for change. That is a central tenet of the University, which, like all research universities, welcomes honest and respectful debate and discussion in the pursuit of knowledge.

However, as an institution of higher learning, we have to balance free expression with the right of students, faculty, and staff to live, work, and study without disruption. Our policies make clear that all campus activities must be organized within University guidelines to ensure that they do not interfere with institutional operations. Our top priority is the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, so that they can study, live, work, and pursue their educational goals on campus.

We have been heartened, by and large, by the behavior of University community members as we navigate this enormously difficult time. There have been few reports of harassment of Jewish, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian students, and no evidence of violent acts or property damage. Given the nature of how events have played out at other universities, we commend everyone for not escalating their rhetoric or engaging in actions that could create an unsafe environment for the community.

The University reiterates the expectation of all community members to be sure this remains the case.

We appreciate and acknowledge the grief that those who have participated in past rallies and protests are experiencing. We grieve the loss of the many innocent Palestinian lives in the past month just as we grieve the lives of the many innocent Israelis who were killed or kidnapped on October 7. We affirm the institution’s commitment to allow University community members to criticize governmental policies as well as the actions of the University.

However, some events on campus have disrupted University operations to a degree that is not acceptable, making it difficult or impossible for students, faculty, and staff to use certain facilities for their designated purposes.

Under University policy, behavior on campus that disrupts classes or other University activities is unacceptable. The University has the right to place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of speech on campus. Examples of unacceptable behavior include chanting, shouting, drumming, and similar actions inside University buildings without obtaining a reservation in advance to use the facility for activity appropriate to the location. Such disruptive behavior violates University policy and will be reviewed for possible disciplinary action as appropriate.

To reduce the potential for disruption, the University is instituting new access protocols for campus buildings. These will be implemented as deemed appropriate and as resources allow.

The new protocols may include limiting entrance points to campus buildings; requiring that those entering buildings present their IDs when entering and upon request; and introducing swipe-only access to some buildings, among other measures.

As always, gatherings that limit access to fire exits, stairways, and building entryways are not acceptable. At no point, are people allowed to enter or to assist others in entering buildings through fire exits and similar exit-only portals. Nor is anyone allowed to assist people to enter University buildings, if they do not have a legitimate purpose for being in a building.

In addition, we are evaluating other changes to University procedures, which will be announced as they are implemented, including but not limited to:

  • Requiring an enrolled University of Rochester student in good standing to be on the record as a contact for all activities, including protests, rallies, and other outdoor gatherings. The contacts may ask to have their names withheld from public view, but without such a contact on record, gatherings may be dispersed.
  • Requiring an enrolled University of Rochester student in good standing who is organizing any event to meet with a representative of the Office of the Dean of Students—or appropriate dean—to become acquainted with University policies for events, gatherings, and protests.
  • Reminding all University community members and all visitors to campus that University policy stipulates that they may be required to present a valid ID—a University ID, if applicable; a state-issued ID otherwise—if asked by a University official or Department of Public Safety officer. Those without a valid University ID may be asked to leave campus.
  • Reminding all University community members that the University’s Standards of Student Conduct and other policies spell out the institution’s expectations as well as the disciplinary measures surrounding protests, campus activities, harassment, and discrimination. Harassment includes, for example, speech and conduct intended to intimidate or cause others to fear for their personal safety.
  • Further restricting access to campus buildings and properties as our environmental, public safety, academic, and cocurricular leaders determine necessary.
  • Restricting the time, place, and manner of future protests to nonacademic hours, and to nonacademic areas.

We are asking all University community members to be mindful of how they express their views with an understanding that they do not have a right or an expectation that anyone else will agree with them and may feel uncomfortable with what they say.

We will continue to monitor activities over the course of the semester and the University reserves the right to adjust our policies as needed to ensure the safe operation of campus. We also will continue to find ways for our community to engage one another with understanding, compassion, and respect.

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