Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Offensive expression resources

Under the First Amendment and the Oregon Constitution, members of the PCC community have the right to express their ideas and opinions even if those ideas are offensive to members of our community or are contrary to PCC’s organizational mission or values. PCC recognizes that offensive ideas, while permitted under the law, can be very hurtful, and cause people to feel upset, angry, or unwelcome. It is very important to PCC that all members of our community feel welcome and supported at PCC. This FAQ provides some information and resources about how you can respond to offensive speech.

What can I do about hateful or offensive ideas that are expressed at PCC?

Here are some ideas for how you can respond to speech that is hateful or offensive. Each situation is different and you must decide what the right path is for you:

  • If you feel safe, you can seek to talk to the person expressing the hateful or offensive idea. Sometimes, personal dialogue is the best way to understand each other. You should only do this if you feel safe. PCC may be able to offer resources to help facilitate such conversations. Please contact freedomofexpression@pcc.edu for more information.
  • You can exercise your own freedom of speech to express your ideas. For instance, in accordance with PCC policies, you can pass out leaflets or hold signs that express your own ideas. You can also engage in the right to protest, as long as the protest follows PCC’s policies.
  • You can ignore the speech you disagree with, and thus not bring more attention to it. Responding to hateful or offensive speech might result in giving it more attention.
  • Take care of yourself, and seek support from others. Being exposed to hateful or offensive ideas is upsetting and painful. PCC has resources that can support you.

There are free expression events that make me feel unwelcome at PCC. What can I do?

Everyone is welcome at PCC. While PCC cannot stop offensive speech, PCC wants to ensure that you feel welcome and able to participate in all PCC programs and opportunities. There are many PCC and student organizations to support you.

What can I do if a free expression event makes me concerned for my safety?

Everyone has the right to be safe on PCC’s campuses. If a free speech event makes you worry about your personal safety, please contact Public Safety.

I felt personally targeted at a free expression event. What can I do?

While the law protects the expression of offensive or hateful ideas, it does not protect conduct or behavior that is verbal abuse or harassment under PCC’s policies. PCC’s policy defines harassment as “unwelcome verbal, nonverbal (for example, whistling), visual or physical conduct based on protected status that is so severe, persistent, and pervasive that it interferes with or limits a student, faculty or staff member’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s educational and/or employment opportunities, programs or activities.” If you believe that offensive speech has crossed the line into harassment or abuse, you should contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

I feel depressed and upset that members of the PCC community are expressing ideas that are hurtful and offensive to me and people like me. What can I do?

PCC offers support and resources for students who are impacted by hurtful or offensive ideas. Please contact:

You can also submit a complaint or provide feedback to PCC.

What is PCC doing to respond to hateful or offensive speech?

PCC will continue to express its values as a college, which include diversity, equity, inclusion, and creating a welcoming environment. PCC is committed to ensuring that every student is able to access their education in an environment that honors, values and respects them.