Update on Free Speech, Expectations and Policies

November 17, 2023

Dear Trojan community,

We want to start by thanking you for your care and concern for each other during this painful period of global conflict. Nevertheless, Trojans have encountered – both online and in person – comments, chants, and slogans that are hurtful and disrespectful. This can add to the stress, discomfort, and fear many are feeling. And we receive many questions about USC’s obligations with respect to free speech, hate speech, and the First Amendment.

In response to these inquiries, we would like to direct you to our website on freedom of expression. We designed this site to help everyone better understand free speech at USC. There is a lot of information there. It’s geared to helping you understand, for example, how most hateful speech is actually legally protected, even though it may run counter to our values.

This site also provides information for reporting incidents of all types, and we encourage you to do so. All reports filed with The Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX (EEO-TIX), the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Threat Assessment and Management are evaluated and reviewed. 

As a community, we embrace and encourage academic dialogue and intellectual, rigorous debate – both inside and outside the classroom. This is at the core of our great university and our great democracy. All of us should be aware and mindful of the impact our speech can have on others. We have a commitment to freedom of expression as well as to mutual respect. These shared values are at the heart of USC’s Student Commitment and Unifying Values.

We hope you find the website useful. Thank you again for supporting each other and to living up to our Trojan values. We wish you a strong finish to the academic year.


Andrew T. Guzman
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Monique S. Allard
Vice President for Student Life