Free Speech Values News

Information Related to Guest Speakers on Campus

The University is committed to cultivating an environment of mutual respect, concern for others, diversity, inclusion, and academic integrity. These core values are the bedrock of our community.

Consistent with our values as an institution, the University supports students, faculty and staff in their pursuit to provide programs, speakers, and opportunities for intellectual conversation, discourse, and ultimately, learning. The usage of a Pitt facility does not equal an endorsement of any speaker, presentation, or expressed viewpoint.

We encourage a diverse educational experience for all students through the free expression and exchange of ideas—even ideas that, at times, conflict with our own beliefs—in a civil and safe manner. Our Pitt Promise unequivocally reflects this commitment to civility. We welcome such diversity of thought and perspective because we know that we cannot learn—and we certainly cannot grow—if we listen only to people whose viewpoints reflect our own.

Who decides what speakers are invited to campus?

Student organizations may invite guest speakers to campus and are required to submit a University-approved contract. These are necessary for all on-campus guest speakers or live performance events sponsored by student organizations. Contract or contract waivers are required. Please visit the Student Organization Resource Center for more information.

Who pays for security costs?

The safety of our campus and community is our top priority. Generally speaking the hosting organization is responsible for security fees which are determined by University officials.

University officials shall determine whether an event requires security by evaluating factors, such as but not limited to, anticipated audience size, location of the event, access level to the event (open to the University community, ticketed, invitation only), health and safety concerns, other events taking place on campus, security requests by the speaker and any recommendations by the Pitt Police.

Consistent with the First Amendment, the content and viewpoint of the speaker’s or performer’s message and the community’s reaction or expected reaction to the event will not be considered when determining the security fee to be paid by the hosting organization.  

Can students protest speakers?

Students may demonstrate in a peaceful, orderly and nondestructive way outside the venue. Students also are permitted to dissent peacefully during an event so long as that behavior does not impede the speaker’s right of expression and the audience’s right to listen. If the dissent interferes with any audience member’s ability to hear or view the speaker, impedes the ability of the audience to move freely, or causes or threatens to cause imminent harm to the audience, police and/or University staff may intervene and reposition or remove offending person(s) from the event.

Please see these event scheduling and protest guidelines for more information.