Carnegie Mellon University

Freedom of Expression Policy

This policy is available on-line:

Carnegie Mellon University values the freedoms of speech, thought, expression and assembly—in themselves and as part of our core educational and intellectual mission.  If individuals are to cherish freedom, they must experience it. The very concept of freedom assumes that people usually choose wisely from a range of available ideas and that the range and implications of ideas cannot be fully understood unless we hold vital our rights to know, to express, and to choose. The university must be a place where all ideas may be expressed freely and where no alternative is withheld from consideration. The only limits on these freedoms are those dictated by law and those necessary to protect the rights of other members of the university community and to ensure the normal functioning of the university.


On Carnegie Mellon’s campus, anyone may distribute printed material, offer petitions for signature, make speeches, and hold protests or demonstrations outside university buildings. All such activities must be peaceful, avoiding acts or credible threats of violence and preserving the normal operation of the university. No event shall infringe upon the rights or privileges of anyone not in sympathy with it, and no one will be permitted to harm others, damage or deface property, block access to university buildings or disrupt classes. The enforcement of these conditions will not depend in any way on the message or sponsorship of the act or event.

When guests are invited by a recognized campus organization, they may express their ideas not because they have a right to do so, but because members of the campus community have a right to hear, see, and experience diverse intellectual and creative inquiry. Defending that right is a fundamental obligation of the university. Controversy cannot be permitted to abridge the freedoms of speech, thought, expression or assembly. They are not matters of convenience, but of necessity.


Freedom of expression must be at once fiercely guarded and genuinely embraced. Those who exercise it serve the Carnegie Mellon community by accepting the responsibilities attendant to free expression. University organizations that sponsor invited guests to campus are expected to uphold Carnegie Mellon’s educational mission by planning carefully to create safe and thoughtful experiences for those involved. Hosts are responsible for the behavior of their guests and should exercise due care to ensure that all participants abide by relevant university policies. Related information on planning campus events and  the Security Personnel Statement  are available on the policy website at