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UC Riverside Resources for Free Speech

There are several resources on campus you can connect with if you are dealing with, or have a question about, a free speech matter. As a public university, UCR must uphold the constitutional right to free speech for all people. The university can’t limit free speech — only in very specific situations can speech lose its protections. Below is a list of resources on the UCR campus that you might find helpful in answering your questions, thinking through, and processing what free speech means on campus, and getting a better understanding of how we balance the need to uphold free speech with our UCR Principles of Community.

Helpful Resources 

  • Dean of Students

    The Dean of Students is your gateway to campus resources. It can be overwhelming to figure out where to go or who to talk to — the Dean of Students office is a great place to start. 

  • ASUCR Legal Clinic
  • Chancellor’s Free Speech Working Group

    A university requires an environment where students and scholars can freely express ideas and pursue knowledge, while also promoting respectful dialogue among individuals or groups with opposing viewpoints. To better achieve these ambitions, we have created a Free Speech Working Group comprising of students, faculty, and staff to ensure our policies are meeting the needs of the campus community and to foster transparency in how these policies are implemented.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

    Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides UCR students confidential services — provided by licensed mental health professionals and supervised interns — geared toward demystifying and strengthening the mental health of all Highlanders. CAPS is free to all registered UCR students regardless of insurance. 

  • Ethnic and Gender Centers

    The Ethnic and Gender Centers at UCR are departments on campus that offer students the opportunity to have meaningful experiences through the exploration of identity, the ability to safely engage in personal development and the opportunity to build critical skills for success.

  • Guidance for Social Media Harassment

    The University of California, Riverside is committed to protecting the academic freedom and personal safety of all its community members, including its scholars.

    Nationally, unfair attacks on scholars have increased, often in social media, on message boards and through other online forums. These “trolling attacks” can be professionally disruptive and personally difficult. Faculty, students, and staff are vulnerable to coordinated social media harassment, particularly by those who disagree ideologically. Often the goal of this harassment is to silence university members via intimidation tactics, often coupled with the threat of a coordinated attack that can result in “doxing” (revealing identifying information like addresses and phone numbers), threats of violence, and advocating for disciplinary action from the university.

    These incidents often escalate quickly and can be very intense, even if they are temporary. Time is of the essence to notify the appropriate campus offices quickly, connect the scholar with available resources, and provide support.

    Immediate Action: If you or a scholar you know is in imminent danger, contact law enforcement officials immediately.  These guidelines are intended for use once safety has been ensured.

    Document the nature of the attack as social media can spread quickly and can be removed.

    Confirm whether UCPD has been contacted. While some campus community members may have reservations about contacting law enforcement agencies, these units can help with tracing and investigative resources and have access to information and databases about national networks through which many of these known entities operate.

    Consider the Pros and Cons of Preparing a statement with appropriate guidance and collaboration as quickly as possible, ideally within hours of the attack (if it is determined by parties involved that this will be helpful to the situation rather than escalating it). Keep in mind that the statement may reach faculty, staff, and students in the unit and on campus, scholars in the discipline at large; and politically diverse people in the community.  As such, issuing a statement could further escalate the situation. University Communications can provide assistance in deciding whether to issue a statement and in crafting the statement.

    If issued, the statement should contain the following elements:

    • A commitment to academic freedom
    • A statement recognizing the faculty member’s standing in the field (where applicable)
    • A statement supporting the research (where applicable)
    • A statement asserting our commitment to supporting the wellbeing of all our students (where applicable)

    Here is a sample message:
    “The University of California, Riverside is committed to academic freedom. [SCHOLAR NAME] is an established and accomplished scholar in [DISCIPLINARY AREA] and a valued member of our university. As with all of our scholars at the University of California, [PROFESSOR NAME or ‘STUDENTS HAVE’] has the right of academic freedom necessary to pursue scholarship and research on important subjects and to reach conclusions even if some might disagree with those conclusions. Exploring challenging and important questions is exactly what scholars in a world-class university should be doing.”

    Prepare staff to handle harassing phone calls and email inquiries. Consider creating an automated response and provide them with language:
    “I appreciate your interest in this issue. Inquiries on this topic are being handled by University Communications. Would you like me to transfer you to that office?”

    Students may be uncomfortable attending class or may have questions about the attack(s). Talk to all instructors and faculty about how to handle them. Be prepared to move classrooms or to move to a remote environment, if necessary. Discuss whether to have a substitute instructor. Offer ideas about alternative student activities while the attack is occurring. There may be an impact on other classes, even classes not taught by the faculty member. Discuss this possibility with the advising team and faculty.

    Make sure you put any affected students in touch with the Dean of Students Office for further student support resources, including case management, Counseling and Psychological Service, etc.

    Faculty and staff of the home unit may want to show support. Identify ways they can assist. Those can range from speaking publicly in defense of the person who has been attacked to talking through what has happened with town halls, in departmental meetings etc. The tone of any public supporting statements and discussions should maintain professional conduct standards.

    Other faculty and students at large may worry about their safety and vulnerability to these attacks. Take these concerns seriously. Connect them with appropriate resources and offices to determine additional needs.  This may include temporarily removing directory information which might identify addresses, including residence, office and classroom locations and installing filters to move certain email messaging to spam or a separate file until the faculty member (and University officials and UCRPD in cases of threats) are ready to review them.

    Co-authors and collaborators may be affected, as the attack may have repercussions beyond campus. It may be beneficial to contact the relevant disciplinary organizations.
    The effects of the attack will linger beyond the immediate episode. The scholar may lose trust in the broader community or experience reduced confidence. Connect the scholar with services of the Faculty Staff Assistance Program, that can assist with any recurring personal issues. Follow up with the scholar periodically.

    Be aware that the attack(s) may have long-term effects. The faculty member may experience a decline in productivity with negative implications for promotion and tenure; students may experience challenges keeping up in their coursework. Be sure to discuss this with the faculty member and/or students in the months after the attack. Consider the possibility of tenure rollback or temporary student leave. Keep in mind, when soliciting external evaluations for the promotion process, that the attack may affect the scholar’s reputation.

  • Highlander Union Building

    Since 2007, the Highlander Union Building (HUB) has been the place where UCR students, faculty, staff, and community members meet, eat, study, and relax. The HUB Features 160,000 square feet of meeting rooms, lounges, outdoor seating, dining venues and offices. The HUB is primarily funded by the HUB Referendum Fee, a quarterly fee paid by all UCR students. The facility is governed by a student-majority board that approves the annual operating budget, major space renovations and initiatives.

    For more information about events at the HUB, please visit HUB Scheduling.

  • Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

    The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is committed to the urgent, sustained, and comprehensive work of creating a campus climate of mutual respect and communal vision at the University of California, Riverside. This work belongs to every member of our community and includes ensuring greater representation of individuals from all backgrounds in every part of the university and keeping fairness and accessibility in higher education at the heart of our policies and procedures. We value a deep, collective understanding that an institutional and personal commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a true commitment to meaningful, lifelong learning.

  • Office of the Ombuds

    The Office of the Ombuds is a confidential, impartial, informal, and independent resource that assist UCR community members (students, faculty, and staff) in addressing or resolving disputes or ongoing conflicts. 

  • PEN America

    Founded in 1922, PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. PEN America works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. Visit the site for resources and information.  

  • Student Affairs Case Management (SACM)

    Student Affairs Case Management (SACM) helps students solve problems. If you are dealing with mental health, academic challenges, relationship issues, food insecurity or any other stressful crisis, a case manager can help. SACM empowers students to solve problems by providing resources, education, and expertise. 

  • Student Life

    The Office of Student Life provides a large array of resources to help students with their experience outside of the classroom. If you want to get involved in a program to help you develop leadership skills, become better acclimated and adjusted to campus life or find fun activities, Student Life can help. 

    If you’re looking for ways to get involved, browse HighlanderLink or take our Involvement Calculator to get recommendations on clubs that align with your interests.

  • UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement

    The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement explores how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement should enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge in America’s colleges and universities. Visit the site for more resources and information. 

  • University of California Police Department (UCPD)

    UCPD can help in case of an emergency. Call: (951) 827-5222