The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Stanford President's Message About Student Misconduct "as Part of a Protest March"


From a message posted Thursday:

Stanford President Richard Saller today made the following remarks to the Faculty Senate:

On Monday evening, as part of a protest march on campus, a group of individuals entered an engineering building where students were present and working in labs. The marchers who entered the building blocked entryways with constructed barricades they had brought with them and furniture from the building, and vandalized an interior wall and door with spray paint.

We have learned that students who were at work in the building were frightened by the intrusion and were concerned for their research and lab equipment as well as their personal safety. A faculty member whose lab is in the building shared that the research in that lab was sensitive and dangerous to those unfamiliar with the safe operation of the equipment.

The individuals who entered the building dispersed once public safety officers entered. Nevertheless, the actions that occurred on Monday evening threatened the health and safety of our community. The peaceful expression of viewpoints, which we value, can and should occur within the university's time, place, and manner provisions, without vandalism, and without jeopardizing the safety of our community members.

Over the last three days, the university and the Department of Public Safety have been investigating what occurred and collecting evidence. We are beginning disciplinary proceedings based on the evidence collected, which included items left behind such as personal identification, hardware associated with the barricades, a respirator mask, and other items that indicated an intention to occupy the building. The investigation also is continuing. We will respect the privacy rights of those involved. However, I want to be clear that students responsible for actions that threaten the safety of our community, such as those that occurred on Monday, will face immediate suspension and the inability to participate in Commencement based on the president's authority in cases of threats to community safety. In addition to being referred to the Office of Community Standards conduct process, they may also be subject to criminal charges.