April 26, 2024

Dear students,

The events in the Middle East today, and since Oct. 7, are a source of deep concern and passionate debate among members of our community, as well as communities across the nation and around the world. We welcome the peaceful expression of diverse viewpoints at Stanford, and we respect the interest of students in advocating for their views.

Consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the First Amendment, Stanford has viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner provisions, which prohibit disruptions of classes and university events. University policy also prohibits overnight camping; under well-established law, there is no First Amendment right to camping by protesters.

These policies are important to supporting the academic and scholarly activities on campus and to supporting the safety of our community. As we have previously explained, tents and overnight camping pose multiple safety challenges, including the need for 24-hour security since the physical layout of our campus makes it easily accessible to outsiders, some of whom may come with bad intentions. The tents themselves can also pose safety hazards, as was discussed in winter quarter. Students were reminded of these policies in a message earlier this week. We encourage the daytime use of White Plaza for free expression as long as the conduct is consistent with university policies, which require reservations for groups and only allow tables and not overnight tents or other materials.

Yesterday, following a march across campus, students and others erected tents on the lawn of White Plaza. A number of individuals camped overnight. These actions are violations of university policy.

Last night after 8 p.m., university staff handed out letters signed by the two of us to approximately 60 students who remained on White Plaza, notifying them of the university policies they were violating. These letters informed students that failure to cease conduct in violation of university policy would result in a referral to the Office of Community Standards (OCS) student conduct process and also could result in arrest if laws are violated.

We want to be clear with students who are involved in these activities that, while we understand their perspectives on an important global issue, violations of university policy will not be overlooked. In the OCS process, the violations that have been occurring may be punishable by sanctions up to and including suspension. The submission of student names to the OCS process has begun.

Supporters of yesterday’s march also encouraged people from other communities well beyond Stanford to come to our campus to participate in these activities. We want to be clear to visitors to our campus that those who violate university policy may themselves be subject to criminal and/or civil liability.

The university continues to be focused on supporting the safety of everyone in our community. We are committed to an educational environment in which all students can thrive and fully participate in the offerings of the university free of harassment and discrimination. We continue to encourage the reasoned debate of contentious issues. And, as our community moves through this spring quarter, we hope to work with you to ensure that your studies and the work of the university can continue amid this challenging national and global moment.


Richard Saller

Jenny Martinez