Skip to Main Content


We anticipate a beautiful and uninterrupted Commencement Ceremony.

  • College of San Mateo is being proactive and transparent about our safety preparation.
  • All commencement participants are asked to help us have a safe and peaceful ceremony.

Our Philosophy of Peaceful Protest

College of San Mateo honors and respects the tenets of free speech and views peaceful demonstrations as a vital part of civic and public education.

  • College of San Mateo supports students, staff, and faculty in nonviolent protests and demonstrations.
  • College of San Mateo encourages the advance planning and notification of such events to help the administration be aware and work together to ensure peace and safety.

There are Limits to Free Speech

It is important to understand the kind of speech that is not allowed. Examples include:

  • Speech that causes disruption to instruction or the educational process in the classroom, or disrupts college/district activities or operations, such as commencement.
  • Speech cannot advocate for violence, the use of force, or incite (or be likely to incite) lawless action.

Our Duty to Keep People Safe and Free from Harm

College of San Mateo’s duty includes:

  • Ensuring that demonstrations do not infringe on the right of speech of others
  • Minimizing disruptions to operations and damage to college property
  • Working with event organizers and demonstrators to safely facilitate events and allow for freedom of expression
  • College/District employees and Public Safety will use their discretion and judgment in determining when free speech crosses the line from peaceful to disruptive such that commencement proceedings cannot continue
  • College of San Mateo will ensure pre-show announcements encouraging respectful and peaceful behavior

Our Duty to Ensure Commencement Occurs without Unreasonable Interference or Disruption

In general, outdoor locations are available for protest or demonstration. However, Commencement is an important part of our educational process, and thus, for purposes of Commencement, locations for protest and demonstrations will be limited to ensure:

  • Safe ingress and egress of graduates and attendees
  • Safe and uninterrupted processions of students and employees
  • Speakers or performers can be seen and heard by the audience
  • Free flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and parking
  • No imminent health threats or safety hazard violations
  • A CSM Graduation Map has been created to bring awareness to the outdoor commencement ceremony boundaries that set aside areas for the smooth flow of the procession and observation by family and friends. The area outlined in red is considered extended classroom space.

Our “De-escalation First” Approach for Nonviolent Behavior

The College has assigned a campus team of Vice President’s, Deans, and Student Life managers/assistants to de-escalate any observed nonviolent disruptive behavior. Examples of disruptive behavior include:

  • Blocking the view of commencement observers with signs
  • Amplifying sound or yelling that disrupts speakers, reading of the names, or performers
  • Blocking the flow of vehicles
  • Blocking the procession of graduates and employees

The campus team will have conversations with the person(s) involved in the disruption and make efforts to cease the disruptive behavior. If the behavior continues beyond these efforts of the campus team, public safety will be asked to intervene and continue to speak to the disruptor to de-escalate.

If the disruption is preventing the continuance of the commencement ceremony and after all efforts to de-escalate have been exhausted, then the disruptor(s) will be asked to leave campus.

If the disruptor(s) refuses to leave and continues to disrupt to the extent that commencement cannot proceed, there will be a series of pauses of the event and potential cancellation.

Physical or Violent Threats to People or Property May Lead to Cancellation

  • Violence requires immediate police engagement and action
  • Event may be canceled if there is a high risk for damage to property or physical harm
  • Authority to cancel rests with the District Chancellor, College President, or designee