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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Beyond CSUSM’s legal requirements, do we believe in the value of all kinds of opinions and perspectives?

    Absolutely. CSUSM supports the notion of a “marketplace of ideas” in which speech that a person disagrees with should be met with more speech that engages and debates it. The First Amendment and the university are founded on the premise that we are all better off if ideas can be expressed and responded to, rather than be subject to an imposed orthodoxy of belief and punished for deviating from it.

    As a community of educators, free speech is important to CSU’s mission of teaching and learning. Many ideas now fundamental to our understanding of the universe and our place in it – such as evolution or climate change – were initially attacked. Freedom of speech is so important to the university that one of our bedrock principles is academic freedom, which protects faculty in their research and teaching, as well as the speech of students.

  • What should I do if I’m being harassed and/or cyberbullied?

    Being a member of the CSUSM community means that you may come across things on campus or the internet and social media which you don’t agree with - or that specifically targets you, a group individuals, or an ideology. We strive to make every effort to make sure all students, staff, faculty, and guests are treated fairly. In that spirit, this guide is intended to help individuals navigate their response when confronted by such events.

    If you are a CSUSM student and have been the victim of harassment or cyberbullying, please contact the Dean of Students Office.

  • Can CSUSM delete offensive comments on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter?
    Because CSUSM is a government entity, its official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and YouTube accounts are considered a public forum. As a public forum, the government cannot violate anyone's right to freedom of speech based on viewpoint. The University may remove content that contains confidential information, or that is in violation of state or federal laws, commercial or promotion of a political candidate, a commercial or business product or service, or otherwise injurious or illegal. In addition, a social media platform’s terms of service may have additional restrictions according to their terms of service.
  • What does the First Amendment protect according to the ACLU?
    According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Restrictions on speech by public colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. For more information, please see the ACLU's website: Speech on Campus
  • Isn’t there a difference between free speech and dangerous conduct?
    Yes. Speech does not merit constitutional protection when it targets a particular individual for harm, such as a true threat of physical violence   -ALCU, 2020
  • What is a true threat?

    In the Supreme Court case, Virginia v. Black, a true threat is when a speaker directs a threat to a person or group of persons with the intent of placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death.

    In deciding the case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her plurality opinion offered a definition of true threats: “‘True threats’ encompass those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals. The speaker need not actually intend to carry out the threat. Rather, a prohibition on true threats protect[s] individuals from the fear of violence and from the disruption that fear engenders, in addition to protecting people from the possibility that the threatened violence will occur.”

  • How can I best share this information with my team or department?
    For information on how free speech specifically applies to your department you can fill out our presentation request form and a committee member will reach out.