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Campus Speech and Demonstrations

April 30, 2024

To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President; David A. Tirrell, Provost

Over the last two days, members of our community and people external to Caltech have come to campus to protest, demonstrate, and march. These events bring to the fore the Institute's responsibility to support free speech and the exchange of ideas while simultaneously ensuring the safety and well-being of all members of the campus community.

This week's events have been peaceful, and the protests did not impede or disrupt campus research, education, or operations. That said, these protests occurred in violation of Caltech's Free Speech and Expression Policy because the Institute was not notified of the events in advance by an authorized campus organizer. The notification process is a critical step as we aim to ensure that campus community members have the right to participate in free expression in a safe and secure manner. 

On Monday, members of the campus community participated in a silent protest, first outside the Center for Student Services, and then later outside the Red Door Café. In the early evening, a group of protesters marched across campus as part of a weekly demonstration outside Representative Judy Chu's office. On Tuesday, a group of about 50 individuals, comprised of campus community and external community members, gathered along Wilson Avenue and San Pasqual Street. 

While we will continue to work with campus organizers of any free speech event in real-time and onsite to support the safety of students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, faculty, and visitors, we remind community organizers that they must work with designated administrative leads in advance of any planned protests, marches, or other expressive activities. 

We remain committed to protecting individual safety, and to preserving essential campus operations, research, and educational activities. Members of the Caltech community who proceed with their activities in violation of Institute policies, including failure to complete the planned event notification process, are subject to campus disciplinary measures. Members of community groups external to Caltech who disrupt campus activities and violate Caltech policies may be subject to other actions including civil or criminal proceedings. 

Campus security personnel, student affairs staff members, and other trained personnel will continue to be onsite for campus demonstrations to ensure that everyone's views can be expressed in a safe and peaceful manner.