Policy on Student Demonstration

St. Olaf College is a place that invites community members of varied experiences and beliefs to engage with each other and to foster an environment where learning occurs. As such, the right to dissent is essential to academic freedom and scholarly pursuits. Dissent in the form of protest against a particular position, action, or situation is permitted. However, such dissension must not restrict exchange of ideas or the movement of others who hold different views. St. Olaf College respects the right for students to engage in demonstration.

Further, St. Olaf College encourages the free pursuit of learning and makes every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct. It respects and defends free inquiry, while expecting that in the exchange of criticism and ideas, all will show respect for the views of others. In providing individuals the right to assemble, there must also be room for others in the community to access academic and educational processes, to reside in residential spaces, and to take advantage of normal business operations. Therefore, this document serves to outline the appropriate procedures for assembly.

St. Olaf supports students’ freedom to protest while maintaining a safe campus environment for all students. The College expects students to develop a general understanding of the policy on student demonstrations in addition to the student Code of Conduct (https://wp.stolaf.edu/thebook/code-of-conduct/article7)

Examples of assembly include (Please note that this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Demonstration – A large group of people, usually gathering for a cause. It sometimes includes a group march, ending with a rally or a speaker. A demonstration is similar to a protest in that they both can use the same or similar methods to achieve goals.
  • March – A walk by a group of people to a place in order to express an objection to any event, situation, or policy
  • Protest – A protest is a way to express objections with any event, situation, or policy. These objections may be manifest either by actions or by words.
  • Sit-In – any organized protest in which a group of people peacefully occupy and refuse to leave college premises.
  • Vigil – An observance of commemorative activity or event meant to demonstrate unity around a particular issue or concern, and/or to promote peace and prevent violence.

Statement regarding student responsibility and the law

St. Olaf students accept full responsibility for their own actions under federal, state and local laws. While reserving the right to criticize government policy and even, in the name of conscience, to resist government decree, they recognize the rule of law and expect no special immunity on account of their student status. Within the College community, students acknowledge the duly constituted role of Regents, administration, faculty and student organizations in the political processes of the College, accept its regulations and abide by the decisions of its judicial bodies.

Use of space

St. Olaf College buildings and grounds are intended for use by students, faculty, staff and guests in support of the College’s mission. Individuals, groups or organizations may use College facilities and grounds in accordance with established policies and guidelines.

Examples of events and activities covered by this policy include but are not limited to:

  • Meetings and other group activities of student organizations;
  • Meetings hosted by, or led by staff and faculty.
  • Facility rentals, tabling, and other uses of campus spaces by approved non-St Olaf groups.
  • Speeches, performances and other events by outside individuals or groups invited by recognized student organizations.

When an unscheduled activity conflicts with an event which was previously scheduled for the same time and space, the unscheduled activity shall be allowed to continue in its existing location until it must to be relocated to allow for the prior scheduled activity or preparations for it.

  • Amplified music or microphone that has the purpose or effect of significantly interfering with other uses of a building is prohibited.
  • Free passage of pedestrian and roadway traffic into or around campus at all points must be maintained.
  • Ingress and egress to buildings and passage through buildings must also be maintained for the safety of all.
  • Distribution of materials such as leaflets must allow people to decline to receive the materials.
  • Organizers must remove all items and materials at the end of the demonstration.
  • The use of public streets for parades for demonstrations is subject to local laws and requires approval of the Northfield Police Department.

St. Olaf College reserves the right as a private institution to prohibit certain forms of speech that are deemed contrary to the College’s mission, devoid of educational value and potentially harmful to the St. Olaf Community.