Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Prohibition on Homecoming Demonstrations

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) are engaged in a long-running dispute over control of the Student Union, which has been operated by students for over 125 years. In October 2017, RPI’s administration denied — for the second time — permission for the students to hold a demonstration critical of the administration. This denial prohibited students from holding any peaceful demonstrations during homecoming weekend, when the campus was to host alumni, donors, and other stakeholders. RPI initiated sanctions proceedings against students who participated in the peaceful demonstration, and sought sanctions against one student for distributing a letter in support of the campaign. FIRE wrote three letters to RPI calling on the administration to abandon its pattern of censorship of “Save the Union” proponents. RPI eventually found the students not responsible for the charges against them.