Do you want to plan a peaceful protest but don’t know how? Or express disagreement with a speaker on campus but don’t know what actions cross the line? All of this information and more is now available on a new website the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Student Engagement launched on Friday, Feb. 2.
The Student Expression, Rights and Responsibilities website compiles information about how student activism works, what rights students have to express their opinion and university guidelines and policies that must be followed.
The website is split into three sections — learn, act and get support.
The learning section provides information on the First Amendment, including a section about what first amendment rights are granted to students on land-grant universities such as UNR.
“Public universities firmly believe their students should be exposed to an array of ideas and opinions — not only those with which they agree, but also those that challenge their perspectives and worldview,” reads a letter from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities on the website.
Also under this section is a frequently asked questions menu about the First Amendment and how it applies to students, as well as the rights of students and policies of the university.
The act section provides information that helps students express their opinions without getting into trouble with the university or the law.
There is an entire subsection dedicated to how students can express disagreement with things happening on campus. This part of the website walks through different scenarios that could potentially happen on campus and how students can respond to them.
One of the ways the website suggests expressing disagreement is to hold a peaceful event or protest, and it even gives step-by-step directions on how to do so, and what restrictions could apply.
The website also has information on how to report acts of discrimination or harassment — including the newly live Hate and Bias hotline. While the Center for Student Engagement is not the department that handles the reports or investigations, they provide links to those who do.
The get support section of the website provides all the ways different departments can help student activists and their contact information including Police Services, counseling and more.
Hannah Jackson, Speaker of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada Senate, got the idea from the University of California, Irvine. They have a pamphlet with this type of information as pertains to their campus that could be distributed to students. Jackson looked to do the same but quickly realized a website was a more viable option.
“There are so many amazing groups on campus that are doing this work already, so why don’t we consolidate all these resources so people have a guide so they know how to do it and know how to have their voices heard and be able to express themselves,” Jackson said.
Jackson worked with Amy Koeckes, Associate Director of the Center for Student Engagement, and others in the department to quickly compile the information and put the website up so students who wanted to get involved in activism could do so while knowing what they could and could not do.
“Here at the Center for Student Engagement, we were getting a lot of questions from students like: ‘I don’t agree with this, what can I do?’ So then it was like ‘Hey, you can do all kinds of things!’” Koeckes said. “People need to know their limitations because there could be consequences — there could be consequences on campus, there could be consequences off-campus if it is against the law. In that way, it is a resource.”
The information was looked over by a number of people — including journalism professors, students, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and more.
The main reason the information was organized into a website was so it could be continuously updated and added to after it launched.
If there is information you want to see added to or included in the website, please contact the Center for Student Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Student activism is one of the most important things on our campus and in our country too,” Jackson said. “I think with everything that has happened, that we need to work together to make a change.”
Madeline Purdue can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.