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Protest and Demonstration Procedures

The right to freedom of expression at UW-Eau Claire

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire respects and supports every individual’s rights to free speech and to engage in peaceful protests and orderly demonstrations. However, there remains an expectation for all who interact on campus that behavior must adhere to state laws, UW System and UW-Eau Claire policies and guidelines, and the role and function of the university.

Listed below are links to guide the freedom of expression on our campus within the boundaries of lawful behavior and applicable policies.

A number of campus policies are also in place to ensure equitable access to campus facilities for the purposes of free expression by on- and off-campus audiences. These include: solicitation; distribution of promotional material; placement of lawn signs; and use of tabling.

See our Frequently Asked Questions below for useful pieces of information from these policies.

Jump to the FAQ.

Organizing a peaceful assembly at UW-Eau Claire

To organize a peaceful assembly at UW-Eau Claire, please follow these two steps:

  1. Contact Event Services at least one week before your event to confirm your desired facility/outdoor location is available for your event. They will also inform you of applicable campus policies.

  2. Contact the UW-Eau Claire Police Department at least two days (48 hours) before your event to talk through any safety concerns you may have to ensure your event is not disrupted and to ensure all students, faculty and staff can maintain access to university facilities and sidewalks during your event.

Once these two steps are concluded, we wish you a safe and successful event!

Additional COVID-19 safety requirements

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the following campus safety requirements also apply:

  • Face coverings must be worn indoors and outdoors on campus.
  • Six-foot physical distancing must be followed.
  • Check with UWEC Event Services to determine limits for both Outdoor and Indoor assemblies. Capacity limits may vary based on location, public health guidance from state and local officials and other factors.

For a listing of all campus safety requirements please visit our COVID-19 website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If I want to hold an assembly or protest on the campus, who do I need to contact?

Contact Event Services at eventservices@uwec.edu to inquire about space availability for your event. Public assemblies, demonstrations or protests may use campus grounds but must confirm the space is available on the date/time they request to avoid conflicts of already-scheduled university events. Event organizers should also contact the University Police at police@uwec.edu to ensure safety for event participants and other university faculty, staff and students.

Does the university decide what individuals or groups may hold assemblies or protests on campus based on the viewpoint they are expressing?

No. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) believes in our responsibility as a public institution to open our campus to all ideological perspectives in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I of the Wisconsin Constitution. The university adheres to the principles enumerated in UW System Regent Policy Document 4-21 when making decisions about freedom of expression.

Why does the UW-Eau Claire Police Department have officers present at campus assemblies?

UW-Eau Claire police officers may attend campus assemblies to ensure the event is not disrupted. The UW System is committed to academic freedom and free expression, and police are trained in de-escalation tactics to intervene only if an individual or group is attempting to silence another. The police also assist in ensuring campus buildings and sidewalks are accessible, as required by UW System administrative code.

I’m worried a protest might make it difficult for me to get to class or enter campus buildings. What can the university do to prevent that?

The university’s primary mission is to provide education, research and public service, and events or individuals that interfere with the campus’s primary function can be cited. UW System administrative code chapter 18 includes various requirements for non-academic use of the university’s lands, including that:

  • Assemblies cannot block access to buildings, offices or sidewalks; intentionally disrupt university activities; use force or violence, or intentionally threaten force or violence, against any member of the university community
  • Noise levels that are intentionally disruptive to the university’s mission are not allowed
  • No person can ignore university authorized security measures, use unauthorized sound-amplifying equipment, or commit acts of vandalism

Events that intentionally violate these requirements may be declared unlawful, and individuals found to have violated these provisions may be charged with disorderly conduct.