Gatherings, Protests, and Demonstrations

Active citizenship, including exercising free speech and engaging in protests, gatherings, and demonstrations, is a vital part of the Tufts community. Refer to the Trustee Statement on Freedom of Expression.

Community Standards maintains a webpage of Policies Regarding Student Behavior. Visit the page for comprehensive information. Some information most relevant to free expression is included below. For further considerations and guidelines on gathering, protesting, or demonstrating at an existing Tufts event, visit Expressing Disagreement With An Event

Students engaging in protests, gatherings, and demonstrations are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with all applicable Tufts policies, safety requirements, and laws.

Relevant Tufts policies include, but are not limited to, the following parts of the Student Code of Conduct:

  • Disruption or obstruction of community activity
  • Unauthorized access
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Property damage and vandalism

Students are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office with questions about how these policies (which apply to all Tufts activities and community members), may apply to a specific gathering, protest, or demonstration.

Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions

All events on campus—including protests, gatherings, and demonstrations—are subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. For example, events that use amplified sound or cause loud noise are prohibited within hearing distance of residential facilities between midnight and 8 a.m. throughout the year and for longer times during reading period and final examination week each term. 

Details of such time, place, and manner restrictions are provided by the Office of Campus Life.

Certain large campus events have additional restrictions to ensure safety for participants and others in the community. For any campus event with more than 25 attendees, the following additional restrictions and guidelines apply:

1. Open flames (e.g., torches, fire pits, etc.) are prohibited from all indoor and outdoor spaces, unless the student or student organization has approval from the Department of Public and Environmental Safety, as specified in Section IV (H).

2. Possession of sticks, clubs, bats, and other objects that may be used as a weapon is prohibited, unless the student or student organization has approval from the Department of Public and Environmental Safety.

3. For public safety considerations, wearing masks, bandanas, or other material to cover a person's face or identity, other than masks or coverings for health or religious observance reasons, is strongly discouraged.

Failure to follow the policies and restrictions outlined above constitutes a violation of this policy.

Getting Logistical Support for Your Protest or Demonstration

Protests and demonstrations on campus are exempt from the event registration process that is otherwise required of all student events. Nevertheless, students are invited and encouraged to register their planned protests and demonstrations with the Office for Campus Life (OCL) so that the university can provide event and logistical support. 

  • OCL staff do not review or approve the content of the event, nor do they authorize or deny any registrations. 
  • OCL can assist with logistics like obtaining relevant permits from municipal authorities (for example, permits may be required to close public streets for marches), finding appropriate space and overflow space (for example, accounting for room/building occupancy limits), supporting a group’s audio-visual needs and making any safety or security arrangements that are needed for the event. 
  • For campus public safety considerations, gatherings, protests, and demonstrations should be coordinated with TUPD and may require their presence.
  • Details of the event registration process and the form students or student organizations may use to register an event are available online.

Civil Disobedience

Protests and civil disobedience have played a historic role on university campuses, in bringing important and beneficial changes within society and in the development of our democracy. 

However, civil disobedience is not protected speech under the Constitution. The Constitution does not guarantee any right to engage in civil disobedience-which, by its very definition, involves the violation of laws or regulations without incurring consequences. 

Civil disobedience may have a negative effect on the protected interests of others and may interfere with University business or threaten public safety or University assets in ways that require the University to act to protect those other interests.

Students who choose to engage in civil disobedience and violate our polices, code of conduct, or laws will be held accountable and face the appropriate consequences.