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Supporting Student Activism

We recognize these are historic times, and that many students feel it is important to engage with the critical issues of our era and make their voices heard. American University defends the right to free expression, including the freedom to express dissent, within the context of the law and responsibility for one’s actions. The university has a long-standing policy supporting freedom of expression and dissent, and these values are regularly affirmed as institutional values.

Activism and Student Involvement

AU has long been considered one of the most politically active universities in the U.S., and this activism takes many forms – including community dialogues, involvement in advocacy and political campaigns, workshops to build and strengthen leadership and awareness, and a wide variety of student organizations. A number of the over 150 student groups active at AU are involved with social justice, advocacy and working for change.

For Students Participating in Off-Campus Protests

If you choose to participate in off-campus protests, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities, be prepared, and be familiar with resources and policies. AU affirms that:

  • Students have a right to engage in peaceful and lawful protest.
  • No student who is enrolled or has a pending application will be affected by disciplinary actions arising from their participation in peaceful and lawful protests, so long as their personal conduct is consistent with AU policy.
  • No disciplinary action will be taken if students are arrested off-campus for protesting peacefully and/or violating curfews related to protesting.
  • Students’ financial aid status with the University will not be impacted. 

Health and safety protocols. If you participate in protests during the current pandemic, you must follow health and safety protocols. According to the health and safety pledge you are required to take this semester as part of your mandatory online AU Forward health and safety training, you agree to abide by all safety guidelines. This includes at any events such as protests, wherever they are located.

Questions? Please reach out to

On-Campus Protests

On-campus gatherings are currently suspended as part of the university’s health and safety commitments. This includes protests and demonstrations on University property.

Protocol for on-campus protests will be posted here when applicable.

Questions? Please reach out to

AU Resources and Policies

AU Video Trainings 

Trauma-informed engagement provides foundations and principles that can help organizations be effective, while avoiding stumbling into misguided actions that can interrupt or disrupt progress. This three-day training describes the practical application of a trauma-informed approach, which can help to maintain social cohesion, build cross-cultural collaboration, and develop strategies for ethical campus activism.

  • Trauma-Informed Campus Activism: Part I: How to recognize the different ways communities are impacted by trauma and create a space where people feel heard and can engage in collective activism effectively and in ways that avoid retraumatizing. With the Counseling Center.
  • Trauma-Informed Campus Activism: Part II: How to realize, recognize and respond to trauma while resisting retraumatizing. With the Health Promotion & Advocacy Center.
  • Trauma-Informed Campus Activism: Part III: On the ground — how trauma-informed response really works for student leaders and organizers. With the Center for Student Involvement.

Local and National Resources