Civil Disturbance and Demonstrations (Involving Students)


Most campus demonstrations such as, marches, meetings, picketing, and rallies, will be peaceful and non-obstructive. However, such demonstrations may become unlawful when the following occur:

  • Intentional or reckless interference with normal College activities and functions. Examples of such activities/functions include but are not limited to studying, teaching, public speaking, research, administration of the College, or emergency (Campus Safety, fire, or police) operations.

  • Intentional interference with the freedom of expression of others.

  • Actions, explicit or implied threats, or gestures, which place a person in reasonable fear of unwelcomed physical contact or harm.

  • Intentional or reckless behavior which may, or in fact does, deface or cause damage to College property or the property of others.

  • Obstructing access to offices, classrooms, buildings or other College facilities.

  • Unauthorized entry into or occupation of any College room, building, or area of the campus, including such entry or occupation at any unauthorized time.

If you encounter a Civil Disturbance or Demonstration:

  • Avoid provoking or obstructing demonstrators.

  • Avoid the area of disturbance.

  • Continue with your normal routine.

Non-Violent, Non-Obstructive Demonstrations

  1. Generally, peaceful demonstrations should not be interrupted and protestors should not be obstructed or provoked. In some cases, however, the College may determine that a designated area/s should be established for demonstrators.

  2. Efforts should be made to conduct College business as normally as possible during any demonstration.

  3. If possible, have campus staff monitor the demonstrations.

    If demonstrators are asked to leave but refuse to leave a facility by its closing time:

  • Arrangements will be made by the Dean of Students (or designee) to monitor the situation during non-business hours, or

  • Determination will be made by the Dean of Students (or designee) to treat the violation of regular closing hours as a disruptive demonstration. (See below)

Non-Violent, Disruptive Demonstrations

In the event that demonstrators are interfering with the operations of the College:

  1. The Dean of Students or his/her designee will go to the area and ask the protestors to leave or discontinue the disruptive activities.

  2. If the demonstrators persist in their violations, they will be apprised that failure to discontinue the specified action within a determined length of time will result in disciplinary action and/or possible intervention by police authorities.

  3. If the protestors persist in disruptive activity, the following statement will be read by a selected College official as circumstances permit.

    "I am _____________________, speaking on behalf of Santa Monica College. The College Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct forbids the following conduct, as described in the Student Handbook:

    • Continued disruptive behavior, continued willful disobedience, habitual profanity or vulgarity, persistent abuse of other students, or the open and persistent defiance of the authority of, or persistent abuse of, college personnel. [E.C. §76033(a)]

    • Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or any other authorized college activities.

    • Theft of or damage to property of the college or of a member of the college community or campus visitor.

    • Unauthorized entry to college facilities or unauthorized use of college supplies, equipment including computer hardware, and licensed software.

    • Violation of college policies or of campus regulations, including, but not limited to, campus regulations concerning student organizations, the use of college facilities, responsible computer use policy, or the time, place, and manner of public expression, library procedures, college bills and debts, or residence.

    • Disorderly conduct or lewd, indecent, or obscene conduct or expression on college owned or controlled property or at college-sponsored or supervised functions.

    • Failure to comply with directions of college officials acting in the performance of their duties.

    • The act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of expressed or implied threats.

    • Any other offense set forth in the State of California Education Code which constitutes "good cause."

  4. "As a representative of Santa Monica College, I am directing you to vacate these premises immediately or face legal consequences."

  5. If the protestors persist in disruptive behavior after the above administrative message is read, the following statement shall be read as circumstances permit:

    "The College has requested that Campus Police and law enforcement officials clear this area. The College's administration will now withdraw from this area to permit law enforcement to do so."

    Immediately followed by:

    "I am ____________________, from the Department of Campus Police at Santa Monica College. I am asking you to leave these premises and disperse. If you do not leave now, you will be committing trespass, in violation of Section (Penal Code Section 602(q).)

  6. Efforts, including the taking of photographs if necessary, should be made to secure positive identification of demonstrators violating the Code of Conduct and breaking the law in order to facilitate later investigation.

  7. If determination is made to seek police intervention, the demonstrators will be so informed. Upon arrival of the Police Department, the remaining demonstrators will be warned of the Police Department's intention to arrest.

Violent, Disruptive Demonstrations

In the event of a violent demonstration, in which injury to persons or property damage occurs or appears imminent, the following procedures will be implemented. Also, the steps outlined in the above section regarding Nonviolent Disruptive Demonstrations should be followed, if circumstances allow.

During Business Hours

The Chief of Police (or designee) will respond and advise the Superintendent-President. All immediate steps will be taken to minimize any potential for real damage and injuries by contacting the appropriate police agencies as deemed necessary. The Superintendent-President and her/his staff will determine any further action.

After Business Hours

  • The Department of Campus Police will investigate the disruption and take immediate steps to mitigate any damage or injuries. Local law enforcement will be contacted as deemed necessary.

  • The Department of Campus Police will notify the Superintendent-President and the Vice President of Student Affairs who will inform the Dean of Students and appropriate administrators on duty to discuss further action.

Note: If possible, attempts should be made to communicate with protestors to convince them to desist from engaging in illegal activities. However, College Police are authorized to call for local police assistance without counsel from others if doing so is deemed to be of immediate importance to the safety of persons or property.

Freedom of Expression

By Office of Student Life

  • The United States Constitution protects freedom of expression. Generally, expression may not be banned or restricted because of its content (what is said). However, the time, place, and manner of free expression can be regulated.
  • Santa Monica College has many outdoor areas where students may gather for discussion, communication of ideas, distribution of literature, and collection of signatures on petitions.  These activities do not generally require prior approval by the College. In engaging in such activities, all laws must be complied with, such as not blocking pedestrian passageways (Penal Code Section 647c) and not disturbing the peace (Penal Code Section 415).
  • To prevent disruption of educational activities, amplified sound requires a permit from Associate Dean of Student Life and the Events Office. (Administrative Regulation 4430.)
  • Use of classrooms and other facilities requires a permit from the College.  (Administrative Regulation 4430; Board Policy 6310.)  Approved student groups have priority for use of available College facilities.  Outside groups may be required to provide insurance and pay a fee.  Because of fire codes, public assemblies cannot take place inside building hallways.
  • Distribution of literature or the collection of signatures cannot occur in classrooms, hallways, the Library, or parking lots.  No literature may be placed or left on vehicles. (Administrative Regulation 4432.)
  • Posting of literature is prohibited on all structures, such as buildings, sidewalks, walls, windows, doors, blackboards, lawns, trees, phone booths, and vending machines. (Administrative Regulation 4432.) Posting on bulletin boards requires approval by an authorized person and must comply with Administrative Regulation 4432.
  • Chalking on sidewalks, walkways, buildings or other property not designated for chalking (e.g., chalkboards) constitutes a criminal misdemeanor. (Penal Code Section 594(a)(1).) 
  • While participating in any picket line or public assembly, you cannot possess any length of wood unless that object is one-fourth inch or less in thickness and two inches or less in width or, if not generally rectangular in shape, such object shall not exceed three-quarter inch in its thickest dimension. (Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.08.789.)
  • Camping is not permitted on school grounds.  (Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.08.095.) Refusing to leave any College facility during hours that it is closed to the public constitutes criminal trespass. (Penal Code Section 602(q).)

For more information, contact the Associate Dean of Student Life: 310-434-4435