The following demonstration guidelines were developed in the fall semester 2020 in response to students’ requests for guidance about how to effectively and safely demonstrate in the middle of a pandemic, during an election year, and following a summer of national protests in response to police violence toward BIPOC. These guidelines were developed by the Dean of the College division and in consultation and input from the Student Affairs Board and the ALANA Affairs Board. These are not meant to be policy and have been developed in the spirit of safety and care and to encourage expression, exchange, and education.

Colgate University is committed to ensuring students’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. These guidelines regarding peaceful demonstrations on the campus are offered with the goal of guiding those planning or joining in a protest or demonstration, indicating the potential application of University policies, and communicating potential University responses and actions.

Of particular importance is the desire to ensure that organizers of these events are mindful of the security of all members of the campus community and are aware of the relevant University policies, including the University’s Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression Policy and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Colgate will work with all students, student groups, and student organizations planning to host demonstrations or rallies to proactively address safety issues, to assist organizers in the creation and implementation of safety and security procedures, and to ensure the continued operation of the University and its academic mission.

Rights and Responsibilities

Under the University’s Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression policy, all registered Colgate students have a right to assemble on the University campus for the purposes of peaceful protest of demonstration. Colgate endeavors to establish and maintain a culture and community that inspires its members to pursue knowledge with rigor and curiosity, speak and listen with care, and work so that even the quietest or most underrepresented voices among us are heard. Accordingly, the University supports a climate of debate and deliberation that is open and robust, and does not suppress ideas because some consider them wrong, immoral, or offensive. It is in recognition of these rights and this commitment to free and open debate that the University acknowledges and supports the right to peacefully assemble in protest or demonstration.

In the event a demonstration, however, encroaches upon the rights of others in the community, prevents the academic mission of the University to continue, provokes violence, or presents evidence of imminent danger to the campus community, the University has a responsibility to intervene and manage such events.

Relevant University Policies and Regulations

All student are reminded that they are expected to conduct themselves in a peaceful and safe manner. The University, out of necessity, cannot condone demonstrations that block entryways or exits, block fire lanes or other life safety equipment, or that limits the free movement of individuals. Further, the University cannot permit demonstrations that interfere with the University’s academic mission or operations or allow demonstrators to remain in University buildings before or after regular hours of operation.

Out of the University’s obligation to maintain safety and security for the entire campus community, protesters should be mindful of their location for demonstration and should understand that some campus areas may not be used for demonstrations. These include laboratories or research facilities that require personal protective equipment for entry; facilities or areas containing valuable or sensitive materials, collections or equipment; records protected by federal law or by University policy such as educational records, student- Demonstration Guidelines | Updated October 2020 | Page 2 related or personnel-related records, or financial records; emergency facilities or any facilities housing communication systems, security, utilities, technology or other similar facilities.

As articulated in the Student Code of Conduct, Colgate expects that its students will not lie, steal, cheat, or engage in dishonest or unlawful behavior, including behavior that damages University property, the personal property of another individual, public property, or engage in any other behavior that inflicts physical or emotional harm on oneself, another person, or the community. In addition, students are expected not engage in behaviors that impede other students’ opportunity to learn, or a faculty member’s ability to teach, or that interferes with the academic objectives of the University. Colgate students are reminded of these University policies and procedures and expected to comply with directions of University officials acting in performance of their duties.

The University respects the rights of all voices to be heard and will facilitate peaceful protests to the extent possible. If these efforts fail, the event will necessarily be suspended temporarily - or permanently if needed - to address health and safety concerns. In such a situation protestors must comply with the instructions given and leave the area immediately. Rescheduling a disrupted protest or demonstration is something that the University will facilitate provided that it can be done in a way to address the concerns.

If a demonstration becomes disruptive in ways that jeopardize the health and safety of participants or nonparticipants or impedes the operation of the University and its academic mission, Campus Safety will take progressive steps to mitigate the issue to allow the demonstration to continue or to de-escalate a situation with competing-demonstrations so that the University’s Policy on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression can be upheld

Other Demonstrations

Demonstration may involve the presence of individuals and groups with opposing views, including members outside of the University community. These may also lead to the formation of additional or competing demonstrations or protests. In the event this occurs, the University will work to reserve the right for all parties to continue their demonstration or protest. In some instances, the University may designate an area for different groups in an effort to address the safety of the community and to uphold all parties’ rights to academic freedom or freedom of expression.

No demonstrator may interfere with others’ rights to freely share ideas, threaten the health and safety of others, gather together peacefully, utilize campus spaces and resources and attend University events.

If you are planning to organize a protest or demonstration:

  • Communicate with the student leaders of the organization/group about your intentions to organize a demonstration or protest.
  • Write out the purpose and desired outcomes of the demonstration. Make sure you are clear about the rationale and the objectives.
  • Consider if a protest or demonstration is an effective way to deliver your message or to advocate for your cause.
  • There are many ways to engage in protests and demonstrations or to show your support for a cause. Consider, for example:
    • Educating yourself on the issue
    • Inviting a guest speaker to campus to highlight an issue or position
    • Starting or signing and sharing a petition
    • Donating to related organizations
    • Creating a social media campaign
    • Planning related events and programs
    • Emailing, calling and/or setting up meetings with University administration
    • Emailing, calling and/or setting up meetings with local/state officials
    • Registering and voting in local, state and national elections and encouraging others to do the same
  • Consider contacting your organization’s designated staff adviser (CLSI, ALANA, COVE, Office of the Chaplains, Shaw Wellness Institute, LGBTQ+ Initiatives, Fraternity and Sorority Advising, etc.) or the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (if your activity is not affiliated with a recognized student organization or group) to schedule a meeting to discuss planning and logistics. Your organization’s adviser may also be an academic department or other campus sponsoring organization.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for the demonstration with your adviser
    • In developing this plan consider:
      • The purpose of the demonstration and intended outcomes
      • Whether there are there co-sponsors or external parties involved?
      • The proposed date, time, & location
      • The safety and security plan, particularly if guests from outside of the University community are expected
      • The expected attendance
      • The activities to take place during the event
      • Inclement weather plan
    • The Office of Disability Services can provide guidance to ensure that your protest/demonstration is accessible for all participants.
  • Familiarize yourself and attendees with University policies and guidelines for safety and follow them.

If you are planning to attend a protest or demonstration:

  • Conduct a personal assessment
    • Take care of yourself both mentally and physically
    • Consider any short/long term consequences (both positive and negative) to your physical/mental health, upcoming important responsibilities or opportunities.
    • If you will miss class, communicate with your faculty to be sure you fully understand the implications of the missed class or assignments.
    • If you will miss work, communicate with your supervisor to be sure that you fully understand the implications of missing a shift.
    • Make sure you fully understand potential ramifications, in the event you are arrested.

After participating in on campus protests and demonstrations

  • Reassess your mental and physical health
  • Check on your participants and attendees
  • Assess the effectiveness of your demonstration with your advisor
  • Plan a time to debrief the demonstration with organization leaders and some attendees

Specific Considerations Related to COVID-19

University operations and activities, including student demonstration, must respond to the unique circumstances of the global pandemic. The following guidelines will apply during this crisis. Please note that these guidelines are subject to change based on the changes in policies associated with the public health crisis. Please check for updates any time you are planning a demonstration or protest.

If you are planning to organize a protest or demonstration during COVID-19, please abide by the following:

  • Consider if the protest or demonstration can be conducted virtually.
  • Consider those you live with and their health needs. Do not risk exposing members of vulnerable populations to the virus.
  • Speak with your roommate(s) about your plans and concerns they may have about exposure
  • Review the Event and Meeting Guidelines During COVID-19 and Gates of Reopening
  • The protest or demonstration should take place outside and protestors should have a mechanism to ensure physical distancing is maintained between protestors rallying for their cause and counterprotestors as well.
  • Consider having a COVID resource table containing extra masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and bottled water.
  • In addition to notifying your faculty if you will miss class, make sure you fully understand the implications if you have to miss more classes due to isolation/quarantine.
  • Along with notifying your employer if you will miss work, make sure you fully understand the implications if you have to miss more shifts due to isolation/quarantine.

If you are symptomatic, in isolation for testing positive for COVID-19, or in close contact quarantine from having recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19

  • Do not participate in on campus or local protests if you feel ill, have active respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever (or other symptoms of COVID-19), or are actively in quarantine or isolation.

If you plan on joining the protest in-person (During COVID-19):

  • Consider those you live with and their health. Do not risk exposing members of vulnerable populations to the virus. 
    • Speak with your roommate(s) about your plans and concerns they may have about exposure.
  • Notify your faculty if you will miss class, make sure you fully understand the implications if you have to miss more classes due to isolation/quarantine.
  • Notify your employer if you will miss work, make sure you fully understand the implications if you have to miss more shifts due to isolation/quarantine.
  • Wear a facial covering that fully covers your nose and mouth. Avoid touching your face and mask.
  • Strongly consider wearing or having ready access to goggles, sunglasses or eye protection for added protection (avoid wearing contacts).
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to reduce the chance of skin contact with other people
  • Wear protective and comfortable shoes
  • Bring any needed medications
  • Bring hand sanitizer and use frequently
  • Avoid carrying another person’s sign or touching objects that others have touched
  • In accordance with New York State guidelines, limit your group size to 50 people or less and maintain 6 feet of physical distance during the activity
  • Try to limit the length of your face to face conversations to avoid being a “close contact”
  • Do not shake hands or hug other people
  • Avoid activities that involve shouting or singing in close proximity to others
  • Take care of yourself, mentally and physically
    • Take breaks as needed
    • Periodically check-in with other group members
    • Assess the situation as it relates to your physical safety

After participating in on campus protests and demonstrations

Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days following your activity. If you develop even mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19, do not go to class, self-isolate and call Student Health Services (315- 228-7750) to get tested for COVID-19.