Temporary Standards and Procedures for Campus Events and Demonstrations

Throughout the 2023 -2024 academic year, Penn community members have urged the University to clarify guidance and policies on campus events and demonstrations. This call for increased clarity has emerged as a priority recommendation in the reports of both the University’s Task Force on Antisemitism, the Presidential Commission on Countering Hate and Building Community, as well as the Faculty Senate. The guidelines below consolidate, organize, and clarify current guidelines and policies specific to events and demonstrations.   

The purpose of these temporary guidelines is to reinforce and reaffirm Penn’s commitment to open expression and, at the same time, ensure that protests, demonstrations, and other expressions of free speech are appropriately managed. These are not guidelines about speech content, except as described in VII.a.v. The guidelines aim to enable free expression while allowing Penn to deliver its core missions of teaching, research, service, and patient care without disruption.

The Temporary Standards and Procedures (or Temporary Guidelines) are sourced from numerous existing policies and guidelines, including the following: Event Scheduling, Guidelines on Open Expression, Use of Facilities Policies, Noise Pollution Restrictions, Vending Policy, Poster Policy, University Campus-Wide Exterior and Interior Signage Policy, and the Use of University Name policy. As noted in the June 6, 2024 University message, a faculty-led Task Force will be charged with reviewing these Temporary Guidelines and the Guidelines on Open Expression in academic year 2024 – 2025.

I. Guiding Principles

  1. The University of Pennsylvania (University or Penn) affirms, supports and cherishes its bedrock commitments to freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, and lawful assembly.
  2. The University aims to foster open and rigorous debate, to protect academic freedom and free speech, and to promote constructive discussion, even on the most challenging, sensitive, and controversial issues. Indeed, central to our mission is providing a platform upon which various viewpoints are expressed and encouraged.
  3. While fostering the free exchange of ideas, the University must also be able to pursue its core missions - to teach, engage in research and scholarship, promote the arts and athletics, convene the community, and generally perform its everyday operations.  This includes ensuring that Penn community members are protected from physical injury and that Penn facilities are protected from property damage.
  4. The University affirms the right of members of the University community to assemble and demonstrate peaceably in University locations. The University affirms that the substance or the nature of the views expressed is not an appropriate basis for any restriction upon or encouragement of a lawful assembly or a demonstration except as described herein.
  5. A highly permissive stance toward open expression is an essential part of how the University fulfills its role in society, but it does not extend to activities that impede other University functions. In order to achieve this balance, clarity about free expression is essential to protect the entire community, demonstrators, or potential demonstrators from concerns about unclear rules or inconsistent enforcement.
  6. The safety and security of the Penn community remains a foundational commitment to all students, faculty, staff, and post-docs, and the University will prioritize this commitment in all matters.

II. Applicability of these Temporary Guidelines

  1. Any member of the Penn community or Penn-affiliated organization wishing to schedule an event, such as a demonstration, protest, rally, or guest speaker on campus, must review these guidelines and adhere to them. 
  2. Any event, meeting, demonstration, protest, or rally is governed by these guidelines, regardless of how it is characterized or labeled.
  3. These guidelines apply to all Penn community members and organizations hosting events at Penn.

III. Scheduling Events

  1. The facilities of the University of Pennsylvania, both indoor and outdoor, exist for the primary purpose of University-related education, research, and patient care. Priority for the use of facilities is given first to those academic and patient care activities and then to programs of University-recognized groups.
  2. Events are presumed to be private, that is, limited to members of the Penn community, unless specifically stated otherwise.
  3. The procedure for scheduling events varies for different venues. Organizers should research and determine the process necessary for their venues of choice.  University Life Space and Events Management manages space reservation for many University locations and may serve as a resource for event organizers who are seeking to reserve space. Scheduling of spaces within specific School or Center facilities is administered by the School or Center’s guidelines, and policies governing reservation or use of these particular spaces may be supplemented by University policies.
  4. Events must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance. Scheduling is important to allow planning, coordination with other campus events, and community safety. As the event is being planned, organizers must provide notice about their space needs and/or requests. Of note: most spaces on campus, including outdoor spaces, require more than 48-hours’ notice to reserve. See III.e. below.
  5. All non-academic events requiring the use of Perelman Quad, performing arts facilities, Blanche Levy Park (including the area known as the “Button”), Locust Walk, other VPUL spaces, or Central Pool classrooms must be registered with University Life Space and Events Management. Applications for use of these spaces must be made with the staff in 307 Houston Hall or online two weeks in advance.
  6. Events that require a security assessment from the Division of Public Safety may result in the implementation of additional safety/security measures. The Special Event Security Request Form must be used to request event security provided by Penn’s Division of Public Safety.
  7. Events must occur during the stated business hours in each University location. For spaces managed by University Life Space and Events Management:  Requests for events to occur or extend outside of stated business hours must be approved in advance by the Vice Provost for University Life or designee. For spaces managed by Schools or Centers: These requests must be directed to the appropriate official in the School or Center. The Division of Public Safety and other University officials may also be consulted when reviewing such requests.

IV. Access to Penn Spaces and Event Contracting

  1. Schools, departments, institutes, individual faculty, students, and staff may not serve as "individual fronts" or “proxies” for non-Penn affiliated organizations who may solicit them in order to gain access to or use of Penn venues to organize or host an event on their behalf.
  2. The use of standardized templates in contracting for space is preferred.  If the templates are not used, or there are meaningful deviations, the organizers must consult the Office of General Counsel to determine what is permissible.
  3. No student may sign a contract on behalf of the University. All contracts for lectures, performing arts activities, programs, services, or other events sponsored by student organizations must be reviewed by the Associate Director of Student Life and signed by the Vice Provost for University Life or their approved designee.
  4. Any contract for an event must be reviewed and executed by an authorized Penn representative.

V. Amplified Sound

  1. On weekdays when classes are in session, amplified sound (including, but not limited to bullhorns, musical instruments, and amplified speakers) is only permitted on College Green, Blanche Levy Park, or Penn Commons between the hours of 5:00pm – 10:00pm.  Requests for amplified sound on College Green, Blanche Levy Park, or Penn Commons must be submitted for approval during the space reservation process.
  2. Regardless of time of day, amplified sound is not permitted on College Green, Blanche Levy Park, or Penn Commons during scheduled University events (e.g., Convocation), Final Exams, and Reading Days.
  3. Amplified sound or live music on Locust Walk (West of 36th Street) is permitted only between 12:00pm -1:00pm. At all times any noise must be kept at a level that does not disrupt classes in session or faculty, staff, and administrators working in surrounding buildings.
  4. If noise resulting from an event in an outdoor space may at times interfere or conflict with library, office, and classroom activities, the continued use of that outdoor space may be denied.

VI. Posters, Signs, Banners, and Chalking

  1. The University Campus-Wide Exterior and Interior Signage Policy details information for displaying temporary signage, including chalking. The following are modifications to the Campus-Wide Exterior and Interior Signage Policy:
    1. Posters, signs, and banners should be removed, at the latest, after two weeks of being posted or within 24 hours of an advertised event’s completion.
    2. Non-water soluble, semi-permanent, and permanent substances, including spray-chalk, is not permitted on any University surface, including vertical surfaces, lampposts, informational and directional blades, and public art.  Facilities and Real Estate Services will exercise discretion for removing any markings and determining if compliant with these guidelines.  No markings of any kind are permitted on vertical surfaces.
    3. Light projections may not be displayed on any University building or structure without seeking express written permission from the Vice Provost for University Life or the relevant Dean’s Office (for a School or Center specific building).
  2. The University Poster Policy outlines policies for posting notices in outdoor areas, indoor areas, on Locust Walk and in residential areas.
  3. To protect open expression, signs posted in compliance with these guidelines will not be removed, and it is a violation of these guidelines if an unauthorized individual removes them or posts over them.
  4. School guidelines for posters and banners may supplement University policies.
  5. Non-compliant signage, including posters, banners, and chalking, will be removed immediately.

VII. Demonstrations

  1. In addition to the Temporary Guidelines articulated throughout this document, demonstrations must follow these procedures as well:
    1. To ensure the safety of the Penn community and to protect the health and property of individuals, encampments and overnight demonstrations are not permitted in any University location, regardless of space (indoor or outdoor). Unauthorized overnight activities will be considered trespassing and addressed.
    2. Individuals and groups may not erect structures, walls, barriers, sculptures, or other objects on University property without prior permission from the Vice Provost for University Life. Any structure erected without permission is subject to immediate removal.
    3. Demonstrations are not permitted to occur in or on any of these University locations:
      1. Private offices, private residences, research laboratories and associated facilities, and computer centers.
      2. Offices, museums, libraries, and other facilities that normally contain valuable or sensitive materials, collections, equipment, records protected by law or by existing University policy such as educational records, student-related or personnel-related records, or financial records. This includes College Hall and its exterior steps and entrance ways.
      3. Classrooms, seminar rooms, auditoriums or meeting rooms in which classes or private meetings are being held or are immediately scheduled.
      4. Hospitals, emergency facilities, communication systems, utilities, or other facilities or services vital to the continued functioning of the University.
      5. University sculptures and statues. To preserve these structures and to reduce the risk of injury, University statues and sculptures may not be climbed on or covered with any material.
    4. Participants are expected to be respectful to University employees involved in ensuring the safety of the community and compliance with these guidelines.
    5. Demonstrations violate these guidelines if they threaten or advocate violence, create violence, or harass or intimidate Penn-affiliated individuals or groups on the basis of race, religion, national origin or ancestry, identity, sexual orientation, disability, or any other protected class.

VIII. Interference with the Speech of Others

  1. Protecting free speech includes not interfering with the free speech rights of others, as well as protecting the rights of the speaker. 
  2. Community members may protest speakers on campus with whom they disagree, but they may not do so in a way that prevents the speaker from expressing their views or prevents other members of the community from hearing or seeing the speaker. Groups are encouraged to request VPUL Open Expression Delegates (VPUL-D) as appropriate.
  3. Individuals or groups may not suppress the speech of another individual – they may not have a “heckler’s veto” over speech with which they disagree.

IX. Use of Social Media

  1. Community members have the right to use social media to express themselves.  However, this right is also circumscribed by principles of respect, civility, and local, state, or federal law.  Online harassment and the doxing of students, faculty or staff is not permitted in that they undermine open expression, academic freedom, and physical safety.
  2. To the extent that Penn organizations or community members can be identified as perpetrators of such online harassment and doxing, the University may take action as appropriate.

X. Livestreaming, Filming, and Media Access

  1. For spaces managed by University Life Space and Events Management: Live streaming an event is not permitted except in limited circumstances where reaching a wider audience is appropriate and approved by the Vice Provost for University Life.  For spaces managed by Schools or Centers: Requests for livestreaming an event must follow the School or Center’s policies and protocols. University Communications and the Division of Public Safety may also be consulted when reviewing any requests.
  2. Any third-party who wishes to film on campus for non-news purposes is required to work with University Communications and Penn’s Office of General Counsel.
  3. News media are required to produce credentials when requested by University Communications and may be asked to limit filming to specific areas of campus, especially during demonstrations, to allow Penn’s Division of Public Safety to maintain campus security.

XI. Use of University Name

  1. Penn regulates use of its name, including University of Pennsylvania, Penn, the names of its schools and programs, its shield and related insignia, trademarks, and logos ("insignia") to ensure that such use is related to the University's educational, service and research missions and promotes its objectives. Responsibility for overseeing use of the University's names and insignia lies with the Office of the University Secretary, the Office of University Communications, and the Office of the General Counsel.
  2. University faculty, staff and students may refer to their affiliation or status with the University in connection with personal activities, including consulting, provided that the affiliation or status is accurately represented, and any title or position is accurately identified, and provided that such use does not imply University endorsement of the activity, as further described below.
  3. Use of University insignia in connection with personal activities is prohibited. The University's name must not be used in any announcement, advertising matter, publication, correspondence, or report in connection with personal or non-University activities if such use in any way could be construed as implying University endorsement of, or responsibility for, any person, project, product, or service.
  4. All other policy requirements as noted in the Use of University Name Policy apply.

XII. Non-University Persons

  1. The University reserves the express right to request University identification from participants engaged in events and demonstrations on campus for the sole purpose of determining whether an individual is affiliated with Penn.
  2. Non-University affiliated persons may have less expansive rights of open expression in University locations than those who are members of the Penn community.
  3. Non-University persons who participate in meetings, events, and demonstrations in a University location are required to comply with these guidelines and any additional instructions from other University officials, including the Division of Public Safety and the Vice Provost for University Life (or delegates).

XIII. Enforcement

  1. Each member of the University community is expected to know and follow these guidelines. Disrupting University operations is not permitted. This includes conduct that interferes unreasonably with the activities of other persons; causes injury to persons or property or threatens to cause such injury; holding meetings, events, or demonstrations under circumstances where health or safety is endangered; or knowingly interfering with unimpeded movement in a University location or with University operations.
  2. Given the open nature of Penn’s campus, Penn’s Division of Public Safety and Vice Provost for University Life delegates may ask for Penn IDs in University locations.
    1. Checking Penn IDs for safety concerns ordinarily does not involve making a record of the information for purposes of future disciplinary actions.  Penn Public Safety or VPUL delegates who request ID information for purposes of a possible disciplinary action must give notice of this intention to any Penn ID holders at the time of making such a request.
  3. The Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL) or its delegate (VPUL-D) has the authority to determine if the guidelines are being violated by any member of the University community. Consistent with the interpretative guidance issued by the Committee on Open Expression in 2023, the COE is advisory to the VPUL and to members of the University community regarding interpretations of the guidelines. COE members may assist in offering real time advice to requesting parties regarding the Open Expression guidelines if they are present during a situation that involves possible violations of the guidelines.
  4. The VPUL or a VPUL-D may intervene to address in real time any conduct that it has declared to be in violation of the guidelines. Intervention may include instructions to participants to modify or terminate their behavior.
    1. For students, compliance with instructions from the VPUL or a VPUL-D will have the consequence that no referral will be made by the VPUL to the Center for Community Standards and Accountability (CSA) for a disciplinary hearing or penalty.
    2. Refusal to comply with these instructions may lead to a referral by the VPUL to the CSA, who will investigate the event and decide what disciplinary proceedings, if any, to pursue.
  5. If a member of the Penn community is believed to have violated University policies or guidance, the individual (or organization) will be subject to University disciplinary policies as applicable to students, faculty, post-docs, residents, and staff.
    1. Students who are believed to have violated these Temporary Standards and Procedures will be referred to the Center for Community Standards and Accountability (CSA) upon the filing of a complaint and preliminary review of the allegations.  CSA may consult the Committee on Open Expression for advice but is not required to do so. If a charge is pursued, CSA will follow the normal disciplinary/restorative justice process, as appropriate.
    2. Faculty who are believed to have violated these Temporary Standards and Procedures will be referred to their School Dean or the Provost for further action, in accordance with the Faculty Handbook. The Dean or Provost may consult with the School’s Committee on Academic Freedom for advice but is not required to do so. If a charge is pursued, the Dean or Provost will follow the Procedure Governing Sanctions Taken Against Members of the Faculty in the Faculty Handbook.
    3. Staff who are believed to have violated these Temporary Standards and Procedures will be referred to Human Resources which will follow University/School staff disciplinary processes.
  6. Community members may also be subject to interim sanctions, up to and including suspension for serious and/or repeated violations of this guidance and the underlying codes of conduct.
  7. Reports of online harassment and threatening behavior of any kind should be reported to the Division of Public Safety by calling 215-573-3333 for an immediate response or filling out the Online Harassment Report Form for a response within 48 hours.

(Source: Almanac, June 7, 2024)