First Amendment and the Principles of Community


Dear Colorado State University Community:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
– First Amendment, United States Constitution


We often see speech and assembly activities on the Lory Student Center Plaza and throughout campus. With the continuous exchange of ideas, we will experience issues and language with which we both agree and disagree. Freedom of speech is a treasured right and critical component of learning at Colorado State University. An open and respectful environment for speech supports a complete experience while studying, living, working or visiting our energetic campus. CSU strives to balance the opportunities and requirements of free speech with issues of civility, respect, and privacy. The right to agree or disagree, along with expressing these views are the bedrock of our rights under the First Amendment. This balance supports a welcoming environment for expression of diverse personal experiences and beliefs.
Public universities like CSU are a marketplace of ideas open to a spectrum of free speech activities, both popular and unpopular. As a diverse population of individuals with strong personal beliefs, passionate and contradictory views often collide. This diversity of thought is to be celebrated, and the opportunity to learn, question, and think both conventionally and unconventionally in a safe and respectful environment is part of the higher education experience. Our community has a wide range of beliefs related to politics, civil rights, religion, economics, the environment, and many other issues of prominence locally, nationally, and globally. CSU is committed to providing an open and respectful living and learning environment for such issues to be discussed and debated.

While the First Amendment allows us to exercise our freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble, it does not generally protect advocacy or incitement of illegal action, fighting words, threats of violence, unrestricted commercial speech, and obscenity. We must be free to exercise our rights, but not at the expense of our peers and fellow community members. While speech may not be popular, and some may disagree with the views expressed, it must occur within lawfully protected boundaries. The Principles of Community serve as a reminder of our responsibility to one another:

 Inclusion: We create and nurture inclusive environments and welcome, value and affirm all members of our community, including their various identities, skills, ideas, talents and contributions.

 Integrity: We are accountable for our actions and will act ethically and honestly in all our interactions.

 Respect: We honor the inherent dignity of all people within an environment where we are committed to freedom of expression, critical discourse, and the advancement of knowledge.

 Service: We are responsible, individually and collectively, to give our time, talents, and resources to promote the well-being of each other and the development of our local, regional, and global communities 

 Social Justice: We have the right to be treated and the responsibility to treat others with fairness and equity, the duty to challenge prejudice, and to uphold the laws, policies and procedures that promote justice in all respects.

If you experience speech or topics you do not agree with or find troublesome, know that you have both support and resources, listed below. Additionally, you have the right to not engage or to counter-protest any issue. It is imperative for all to refrain from violence or other unprotected activities when responding. Remember, the profound right of freedom of speech and assembly comes with great responsibility to represent ourselves in the best way possible while earning a world-class Colorado State University education.

CSU Health Network Counseling Services – 970.491.6053 –
Vice President for Diversity – 970.491.6849 –
Dean of Students – 970.491.5312 – 201 Adminstration Building
Tell Someone – 970.491.1350 –
Office of Equal Opportunity – 970.491.5836 –
Employee Assistance Program (for CSU employees) – 970.491.1527 –



For more information, please see the CSU Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly Policy at .



Dr. Jody Donovan                                                                                                            Josh Silva
Dean of Students                                                                                                              ASCSU President