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Guidance for Public Gatherings (Demonstrations, Protests, Vigils)



This document builds on existing guidance established by Pratt’s Community Standards, Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy , and other resources to help students, faculty, and staff understand their rights and responsibilities when gathering on Pratt’s campuses. It also offers further guidance on how to translate that guidance into action, ensuring that campus groups assemble peacefully and in ways that respect our Community Standards.


Manner of gathering

The Institute recognizes that community members’ right to come together—for example, for purposes of public demonstration, protest, or to hold a vigil—is intrinsic to the standards of academic freedom to which we are committed. Pratt students, faculty, and staff have the right to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to freely express their views and opinions publicly and privately. This right must be exercised in a manner that does not interfere with or disrupt the same rights and freedoms of others, may not make improper use of Institute facilities, and may not disrupt the regular and essential operations of the Institute or prevent or limit an individual’s ability to participate in classes, events, programs or activities. Student organizations, individual students, and individual members of the faculty or staff speak only for themselves, not for Pratt as an institution, in their public expressions or demonstrations. 

To the extent that on-campus meetings, protests, demonstrations, vigils, gatherings, and community events do not disrupt or hinder the orderly functioning of the Institute and its related activities, they will be protected. 

Disruptions include obstructing access to or from the Institute, classrooms, facilities or pathways, interfering with the ability of students, faculty, and staff to study, work and enjoy a secure and peaceful academic environment, blocking an audience’s view with banners or other items; disrupting or drowning out the ability of an audience to hear, or disrupting essential operations of the Institute.

If a group or individual disrupts an event or essential operation, a representative of the Institute may request the action to stop or ask the person or group to leave the event or area and move to an alternate location. Individuals or groups who disrupt an event or essential operation, or who fail to leave when asked, may be violating an applicable Community Standard or Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy , and may be subject to disciplinary proceedings. 

The campus of Pratt Institute is private property. For approved events and during particular times of the year, the Institute invites the public to join us at events and extends free speech and expression privileges to campus guests as well as to community members. Any individual or group who disrupts an event or essential operation and is unwilling to respect Institute policy or comply with Institute requests will be asked to leave Institute property.

Planning for demonstrations, protests, vigils, and similar gatherings

Gatherings with expected attendance of more than 25 people are required to follow policies and procedures contained within the Institute’s Event Guidance Guidelines. Regardless of event size, these guidelines must be followed:  

  • Organizers should plan the time, place, and conduct of demonstrations wisely to avoid interfering with the academic, educational, or essential operational functions of the Institute.  Campus Safety reserves the right to redirect demonstrations to an alternative on-campus area to mitigate any concerns or threats to the Pratt campus community’s health, safety, or welfare.
  • Spontaneous gatherings may occur, provided that they comply with the guidelines described in this document. 
  • Events, demonstrations, and vigils cannot block access to any campus building, sidewalk, or roadway.  Events utilizing pickets, large items, bullhorns, or other loud or amplified sound-making devices are confined to the exterior of buildings so as not to disrupt the regular and essential operations of the Institute or create health and safety issues. Demonstrations with a noise level that disrupts other authorized activities on the Institute campus violate these guidelines. 
  • Individuals distributing materials such as leaflets, pamphlets, or similar materials must respect others’ viewpoints and allow people to decline to receive such materials. Event organizers must remove all items and materials at the end of the demonstration, protest, or vigil.
  • Event participants are prohibited from using intimidating tactics or unwelcome physical contact between demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, the audience, the speaker or performers, or Institute officials.
  • Defacing buildings, artwork, or other structures is strictly prohibited, including the use of chalk, paint, or other materials. Participants may not mark or use trees or Institute structures to support or display signs, messages, materials, or equipment without prior approval of the Chief Facilities Officer.
  • Use of open flames requires advance approval of the Director of Campus Safety.

Organizer’s Responsibilities

The organizer of a gathering is expected to

  • Communicate event guidelines within any invitation or advertisement:
    • event location; 
    • event capacity; 
    • start and end time for the event; 
    • restricted items,
    • whether the event is open to the public or Pratt ID is required
  • Be alert for disruptive or dangerous behavior in the crowd. If attendees become disruptive, attempt to gain cooperation by asking for the behavior to stop or requesting those responsible to leave the event; alert Campus Safety if the behavior is deemed unmanageable. 
  • Adhering to the guidelines for Registered Student Organizations (RSO) as outlined in the Handbook if applicable.
  1. Handbook if applicable.

Institutional Statement Regarding Police Involvement in Gatherings and Demonstrations

The Institute supports the right of our community members to protest peacefully on campus therefore, police will not be contacted during demonstrations and gatherings that remain peaceful.  We recognize that there may be instances where the NYPD is contacted by a non-Pratt affiliated individual to report an incident occurring on our campus.  There may also be instances where a peaceful demonstration coincides with a genuine campus emergency that requires immediate assistance from NYPD.  In those cases, police are required to respond immediately.

Terms and definitions

Essential Operations – within the guidelines of this policy, “essential operations” are the activities necessary for the daily functioning of the Institute, including, but not limited to, teaching, study, research, or administration of the Institute; the authorized and other permissible use of Institute facilities including meetings of Institute students, faculty, staff, and/or invited guests and the rights and privileges of other members of the Pratt community. A disruption of essential operations includes the obstruction, impairment, or interference with Institute-sponsored activities in a manner that is likely to deprive others of the benefit or enjoyment of the activity or facility. 

Freedom of expression  – the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. The Constitution, including the right to freedom of speech, the right to the free exercise of religion, and the right to assemble peaceably, are of the utmost importance, and Pratt is committed to protecting those rights. In the context of higher education, the constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech includes both academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Community Standards – Pratt Institute’s mission is to educate students to become creative, responsible professionals who will contribute fully to society. The Institute upholds values and standards that support that mission and holds high expectations regarding the conduct of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Nondiscrimination & Harassment – Pratt is committed to fostering a welcoming, safe, non-discriminatory, and harassment-free educational, living, and working environment for its community.

Revision 1

First Approval Date 3/19/2024

Effective Date 3/19/2024

Find more Pratt resources at Critical Conversations.