Campus Protests: Rights and Responsibilities

The following message from the Dean of Students and UWM Police Department was shared with all students, faculty and staff on April 29, 2024

We know there may be many stressful things on your mind as we approach the end of the academic year, and that they go well beyond academics. There is much pain, suffering and raw emotions that are tied to events happening here and abroad. Tragedy half a world away is resonating in real time with our students and employees and on college campuses nationwide. The heartbreaking war in Gaza is felt by so many, particularly our Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim and Arab American colleagues, friends and family. We echo calls for an end to the violence.

UWM’s legacy is deeply rooted in the free discussion, debate and research of ideas. Recently, we’ve been reminded of just how passionate and emotional these exchanges can be.

For the last few months, students have come together in groups small and large to grieve with and support one another. They’ve organized educational programs, met with campus leadership, and gathered on campus to make their voices heard. That speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment and, as a public institution, we have an obligation to uphold it. We are equally committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our campus community and to making sure that people or groups exercising their right to speech don’t interfere with the free expression rights of others.

We are encouraged that most protests and protesters have been peaceful and lawful. When people choose to protest on campus, we want to ensure that they know how to protest safely and lawfully. Chapter 18 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code defines campus protest guidelines and policies prohibiting camping on university property, occupying buildings, and disrupting university events, classes, exams or programming.

We are committed to maintaining a safe, inclusive and welcoming campus while supporting free expression. Please continue to let your voices be heard while remembering the many diverse voices who call this campus and community home.

Here are some of the resources and support available across campus: