Demonstrations FAQ

We are here to help you have a successful event. Do you have questions about coordinating with the University on a protest or demonstration? Then, start here.

Why do I have to meet with the University to have a demonstration?
We take free speech seriously at Fordham and, as the policy makes clear, every student has a right to freely express their positions and to work for their acceptance whether they assent to or dissent from existing situations in the University or society. The Dean of Students helps organizers with time, place, and manner elements of any demonstration, regardless of the viewpoint being expressed. We coordinate with multiple areas to make the event happen.

Do I have to wait a long time to meet with the Dean of Students about a demonstration?
No- beginning this year, students may simply fill out the online Event Organizer Form to start the short coordinating process and schedule with the Dean of Students, who will meet with you within two business days unless you need longer to schedule. 

Do I have to wait a long time for approval?
Nope. Once you meet with us to coordinate, protests may take place as rapidly as two business days. In some cases, the Dean can work with groups on an even more rapid turnaround. Timing may depend on what else is happening on campus, whether the space you hope to use for your demonstration is already reserved by another group, construction, or other factors. The Dean helps make sure everyone's activities and events in the community can happen, even if your protest or demonstration is going on.

Is my event a program or a demonstration?
Approved student clubs and organizations on campus may choose to plan a program on campus in order to advance a cause or express opinions. Programs may disseminate resources, offer tabling opportunities, host debates and discussions, and review current events. Student leaders interested in holding a program should fill out an Event Request through the Office for Student Involvement. Event requests are reviewed within 3-5 business days. On the other hand, picketing and other demonstrations include, but are not limited to, raising awareness, responding to an event, or expressing diverse ideas. Demonstrations follow the policies outlined in this FAQ and are reviewed within 2 business days.

Why is public safety at my demonstration on campus?
Public safety is present to ensure the safety of all students, including those engaging in the demonstration. Public safety is responsible for ensuring a safe campus and may be present at a demonstration to mitigate any potential conflict so that a demonstration can go forward as planned. Approved demonstrations will not be negatively impacted by the presence of public safety. Please see "Procedures for Responding to Obstructive or Disruptive Demonstrations (4)" for the situations in which public safety may intervene.

May I bring an advisor to my review meeting?
Yes. Students are permitted to bring a Fordham advisor (club, academic, etc.) to the logistics meeting with the Dean of Students. Meetings between the organizer/liaison and the Dean of Students will occur within 2 business days. It is the organizer's responsibility to coordinate scheduling with an advisor, if they so choose.

What information do I need to have?
Like any other event you are planning, it's best to be as prepared as possible. The form assists you in providing information on where, how and when you want to hold your protest/demonstration as well as the manner in which you will demonstrate (A march? A speak out? A picket?). Since the Dean's job is to coordinate with you on time, place and manner, these are key factors. The Dean will also need a few other pieces of information to assist, like the point-of-contact, adviser (if applicable) and will also connect you with offices at Fordham who may need to help (Public Safety, Student Involvement for microphones and space reservations, etc.).

I know that what I am protesting/demonstrating about is controversial. Does the Dean have to approve my viewpoint?
No, that's not really the point. A request to use space at Fordham for a protest or a demonstration has never been turned down based on the viewpoint or content of the protesters/demonstration. Generally, the Dean and staff in Student Life coordinate with groups or individuals planning protests/demonstrations on time, place, and manner. Though Fordham's campus is private property, this is quite similar to the way municipalities coordinate with those planning protests in public spaces.

I feel strongly about the issue—why can't I just walk outside and protest?
Remember, we all share this community with others. Those around you may feel just as strongly about their own interests, activities, and pursuits on the campus and a lot could already be scheduled during the time you have chosen (without checking with anyone) to have YOUR activity. Coordinating with the Dean's office assures that you don't inadvertently hinder the plans and activities of others. By working with the Dean of Students and coordinating with the University as you exercise your right to express your viewpoint, you avoid keeping others from exercising THEIR rights to what they are doing on campus: going to class, going to work, delivering items on campus, doing their jobs, etc.—any number of pursuits that (to others) are just as important as yours. The value here is pretty straightforward: in a community, we should never assume that our rights trump those of others.

Protests should be disruptive. I feel that the protest and demonstration I am planning should interfere with the activities of others to attract attention. Is this permitted?

Infringing on the rights of others is a tricky thing to propose. That's tricky. If interference with the activities of others or the business of the University is a goal of your protest/demonstration, it's unlikely to be seen as reasonable by the community. Again, others have a right to pursue their goals on campus too. If you proceed anyway, you should be prepared for the consequences of your decision to infringe on the rights of others. There is, of course, a familiar tradition of civil disobedience that runs through protests and demonstrations, but participants in activities like this have hopefully made the conscious and fully-informed decision to be penalized as a result. Philosophically (and because it may actually violate University policy meant to protect others), the Dean of Students is most likely going to be unable to grant your protest permission to take rights away from others in our community. This is a good principle to bear in mind as we share our campus and community with one another. Mutual respect is key. However, in cases in which organizers feel that they must proceed with unapproved activities and violate this University Regulation as a matter of conscience, they should be prepared for the Dean of Students or the Department of Public Safety to direct that participants in the demonstration/protest leave the area and to have the event ended.

Of course, all other community standards apply, including the University Code of Conduct. And any violence or threat of violence, unauthorized entry, and/or damage to property can result in action by the Department of Public Safety and the Dean of Students or other staff to immediately end any demonstration/protest whether coordinated/approved or not.  

View the entire Demonstration Policy in the Student Handbook.

Additional questions? Please contact your campus Dean of Students.

Rose Hill: Campbell Hall 124 (off Martyrs’ Court Lawn) | [email protected] | 718-817-4755

Lincoln Center: 140W Building G33 | [email protected] | 212-636-6250