Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Freedom of Expression in the classroom for students

PCC is a place where students come to learn and grow. Our community is diverse and vibrant. Our students and faculty bring a myriad of experiences, opinions, beliefs, and skills to our classrooms. PCC students are passionate about their community and their world. This engagement, passion, and diversity is our greatest strength.

As a student, an essential part of the college experience is exposure to ideas that challenge your understanding of the world and encourage you to think critically. It can be hard to be part of conversations in which people express diverse, and sometimes offensive, ideas can be challenging. In the classroom, students cannot engage in harassment or other violations of the PCC Code of Conduct, and at the same time, students cannot be prohibited from expressing ideas because those ideas are unpopular, offensive or contrary to PCC’s values.

Following are guidelines for PCC classrooms. Please note that this guidance applies to both in-person and virtual classes.

  • Students are expected to act in a respectful, non-disruptive manner in PCC classes. At all times, students and faculty should act with courtesy and respect toward others, even those who express opinions with which they disagree.
  • PCC’s Student Conduct Code is in effect during both in-person and virtual instruction. Students must conduct themselves in a non-disruptive manner and adhere to the Student Conduct Code’s policies prohibiting bullying, intimidating, threatening, or disruptive behavior.
  • In general, student discussion during class should focus on course content and students should refrain from discussing topics unrelated to the curriculum. On occasion, and at the discretion of the instructor, it may be appropriate to dedicate limited class time to topics that are not directly related to the curriculum. This could be related to specific current events or to respond to a topic raised by a student that warrants some discussion. Such discussion must remain respectful.
  • Students may bring diverse views to class discussions. In an educational environment, students may be exposed to ideas with which they disagree and may find offensive, and students have the right to express ideas related to classroom discussions that others may not agree with. At the same time, students must refrain from speech (written or oral) that violates PCC policies, including speech that is constitutes harassment or is threatening or incites violence. For more information, please refer to the Student Code of Conduct. Please also review the information in the accompanying Freedom of Expression FAQ.
  • While PCC cannot prevent offensive speech protected by the First Amendment, PCC recognizes that some speech can cause harm to other students. PCC values all students and strongly affirms the right of all students to have a safe and supportive learning environment. PCC provides supports and options for students impacted by offensive speech. See resources to support students impacted by offensive speech, or contact freedomofexpression@pcc.edu.
  • In a virtual classroom, faculty and students should take steps to ensure that any part of their virtual setting that is visible or audible to others presents a professional and appropriate learning environment. Virtual settings should be free from excessive distractions and cannot contain content that would violate PCC’s Student Conduct Code. PCC understands that it is not always possible to avoid background content noise related to the home environment, such as family members, roommates, or pets.
  • Any individual who believes that they are the subject of abuse or harassment should contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion for more information. Similarly, if any individual encounters speech shared online that is bullying or threatening towards another individual or raises concerns about personal safety, please contact Public Safety.