What is Freedom of Speech?

The First Amendment protects various freedoms, including freedom of speech, assembly, petition, religion and press. The speech protections apply to written and spoken words as well as expressive conduct (i.e., actions that do not involve written or spoken words but do contain a message, such as art or gestures). But these protections apply only to activities regulated by the government, and the protections are not absolute. Governments are also concerned with the security of their citizens and borders, and with equal treatment of their citizens. In analyzing the application of the First Amendment, courts will consider the various security, equality and liberty interests involved.

Public universities and colleges are permitted to enact “time, place and manner” restrictions on free speech activities. Freedom of expression activity includes, but is not limited to, pure or symbolic speech (e.g. flags, clothing, buttons, etc.), assembly, meetings, demonstrations or rallies, picketing, petitioning, distributing flyers, mime and theater, music and singing, survey research, and religious or political activity.

SJSU thanks SDSU for permission to use their Freedom of Speech website content.