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Policies Concerning Freedom of Expression and Dissent

Any person at Smith College is free to express opinions and support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the institution. To this end, all members of the Smith community are obligated to provide, protect and promote the free exchange of ideas in every form on the Smith College campus. The college also has an obligation to assure the safety of individuals, the protection of property and the continuity of the educational process.

If the campus is to be truly free, legitimate exchanges of dialogue must proceed without obstruction or coercion from any quarter. To protect the right of members of the Smith community to protest in an orderly manner, and at the same time to protect the right to freedom of expression and the right to hear, the following regulations have been adopted by the administration of the college.

The Conduct of Demonstrations and Protests

Students, faculty members, staff members at Smith College and persons whom they invite to join them have the right to demonstrate on Smith College property provided they conduct themselves according to the regulations set forth below:

  1. Demonstrations will under no circumstances block free entry to or exit from college buildings, or interfere with the free movement of any person on college grounds or in college buildings or otherwise interfere with the normal conduct of college affairs. Demonstrators will conduct themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner and will refrain from any loud noises that disrupt classes, meetings, assemblies or academic pursuit.
  2. Counter demonstrators will observe the same standards as set forth above. Demonstrations may not be interfered with by other than duly constituted authorities.
  3. If or when, in the judgment of the president of the college, the dean of the college or their designated representatives, a demonstration has passed out of control to the extent that freedom of expression is abridged, freedom of movement on the campus or the normal conduct of college affairs is threatened, or property is being damaged, a verbal attempt will be made by the college representative to persuade demonstrators to desist from practices in violation of these standards.
  4. Should the demonstrators fail to respond in accordance with these standards, they will be warned of the consequences and given a reasonable period of time to desist.
  5. After the expiration of a reasonable period of time, the names of those who do not observe these standards will be requested. The names of such persons may be obtained by such means, short of force, as repeated demands, photographing or any other reasonable procedure designed to elicit such information. Any photographs and negatives used for identification shall become the exclusive property of the appropriate conduct bodies, not to be distributed, and shall be destroyed upon final settlement of the case.
  6. If persuasion and warning fail, the college Campus Safety Officers may be employed to bring the demonstration under control.
  7. If, in the judgment of the president of the college, the dean of the college or their designated representatives, the college Campus Safety Officers seems unable to cope successfully with the situation, then these same authorities may request outside assistance.
Procedures for Access to Visiting Representatives at Smith College

To ensure that orderly procedures will be followed, to assist individual students desiring unhampered interviews with visiting representatives, to define and defend the right to protest peacefully the presence of any representatives and to encourage rational discourse under appropriate conditions between visiting representatives and any significant group of faculty or students who may question their presence and their purposes, the following practices will be observed:

  1. Visiting representatives scheduling individual interviews in the Career Development Office or elsewhere on the campus
    • Representatives of any organization about which individual Smith students may express an interest for information and consultation will be provided facilities for private interviews in the Office of Career Development or equivalent facilities.
    • Any members of the Five-College community desiring to protest peacefully against the presence of a visiting representative will have the right to conduct such a protest outside the Office of Career Development (or the equivalent facility), provided that access is kept free, the interview is not disrupted and the regular and essential operation of the college is not disturbed.
  2. Visiting representatives of any organization desiring space for the public display of informative materials concerning opportunities for careers or commitments will ordinarily be granted space for a table in a college building.
    • Any group of students and/or faculty desiring a counter display of materials that may challenge the careers or commitments offered by a visiting representative will be granted equivalent space for a table in the same building.
    • Free and easy passage in the building must be maintained. Free access to and from any display table must be preserved. No sustained colloquy with those staffing display tables will be allowed to infringe upon the rights of other individuals seeking information or consultation. Picket or protest lines will not be allowed inside the building.
  3. Recruiters for the military services
    • The law specifically places military recruiters in a special category distinct from any other visiting representatives. By statute, any “interference” with military recruiting is outlawed. Legal precedent in the courts, together with public statements by the Department of Justice and the White House, indicates that peaceful protests against military recruiters will not be deemed illegal “interference.” The right to peaceful protest as an essential part of the “open-campus” policy thus seems applicable even to the special situation of military recruiters. The college, therefore, will provide facilities for those who desire interviews with representatives from the military service.
    • At the same time, the special conditions attendant upon the presence of military recruiters should be recognized by all. Activities that range into areas of actual “interference” may well subject persons to penalties by the college or by the courts under the special statutes applying to military recruiters.
    • To ensure that all persons consciously weigh the possible consequences of their actions in relation to military recruiters, the college will provide facilities for representatives of the military services in the Office of Career Development.
    • The right to peaceful protest on campus, as defined by the college, must be defended against any possible arbitrary action by individuals or groups and, like any other substantial interest or responsibility of the college, will be asserted and protected by the college in court or otherwise as circumstances may require.
  4. Provisions for public discussion
    • Whenever a group of students and/or faculty of Smith College sign a petition requesting the opportunity for public discourse with a visiting representative, that representative (or some official spokesperson for the agency) will be invited, but not required, to meet with this group and any other interested persons.
    • Any such petition must be given to the director of the Career Development Office at least one week prior to the scheduled appearance of the representative. The director will see that the representative is notified immediately of this request, and, if the representative is willing, will arrange conditions for this meeting.
Action in Event of Violations

Cases in which an allegation of violation of the foregoing regulations is brought against a Smith College student are within the jurisdiction of the College Conduct Board.

Cases in which an allegation of violation of these regulations is brought against any other person shall be referred to the president of the college.