Information on recent demonstrations

May 8, 2024

Protest-related encampments are currently taking place at universities throughout the country. On this webpage, NAU has gathered essential information regarding its communications, guidelines, and response to key points related to campus demonstrations since April 29. The university continues to be committed to de-escalating tensions and elevating civil discourse on campus.

This page will be updated with additional information as necessary.

Communications to the NAU community

May 8:      Information on Recent Demonstrations

May 3:      Letter to Faculty Senate on Recent Demonstrations

May 1:       NAU Addresses Campus Protests and Ensures Continued Commitment to Free Expression

May 1:       Update: Unauthorized Expressive Activity Removed from Campus

April 30:   NAU’s Commitment to Public Safety and Free Expression

April 29:   On Campus Expressive Activity and Public Safety

Responses to demonstration-related topics (Last updated: May 8, 2024)

On Free Speech and Time, Place and Manner

Free speech and time, place and manner guidelines at NAU

NAU has a legal ability and a responsibility to enforce fair and content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions on expressive activity when necessary to preserve public safety, continue to provide education to our students, and ensure the unimpeded operation of the institution. NAU has communicated extensively on the purpose and importance of the time, place, and manner parameters that have been enacted since April 29. More information on NAU’s support for free-speech is shared in the May 3 letter to the Faculty Senate.

Prohibition on temporary structures

Beginning on April 29, NAU implemented a prohibition on unauthorized temporary structures on campus outside of certain pre-approved hours to support public safety and maintain operations of the university. On May 1, the university further clarified its reasonable time, place and manner guidelines for free expression by noting that all temporary structures are prohibited for the time being on university property, including, but not limited to, tents, shade structures and fencing.

On the Events of April 30

Decision to remove unauthorized encampments

Informed by events occurring nationwide and by its own situational awareness—including SJP’s public calls for external support and self-organizing into demonstrator groups on April 29, which included those who expressly stated an intent to engage in civil disobedience even if it meant arrests and academic sanctions—NAU determined it would not be well-equipped to maintain a peaceful environment where teaching and learning could be advanced if overnight encampments with temporary structures took a foothold on campus and communicated with the university community accordingly. As has been seen elsewhere throughout the country, these encampments are peaceful until they are not, especially as they become magnets for protesters from outside the campus community and counter protesters from within and outside the university. More information on NAU’s efforts to de-escalate conflict prior to arrests is shared in the May 3 letter to the Faculty Senate.

False allegations regarding law enforcement response

The law enforcement approach on April 30 did not include the use of tear gas, chemical irritants or tasers. No evidence has been presented to substantiate this claim.

Return of identifiable property and donation of unclaimed items

Following the removal of unauthorized temporary structures on campus on April 30, NAU proceeded to inventory and return identifiable personal items. The return of personal property began on May 3 and continued the week of May 6, with distributions taking place in the University Union to provide a centralized location for property return. All perishable food items were donated to the Gender Inclusive Housing pocket pantry. Nonperishable items were distributed to Louie’s Cupboard and the Flagstaff Family Food Center.

On the Rights and Responsibilities of Students and Employees

Interim suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine

The NAU student club Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has been informed of the reasons for their interim suspension and, at their request, the original meeting on May 1 was postponed. SJP will be afforded the same consideration as other organizations, which includes meeting with Student Rights and Responsibilities and Dean of Students staff to respond to alleged violations of university policy. Following this meeting, a decision will be made regarding the alleged violations in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct Procedures. Our commitment to an educational approach in these proceedings remains steadfast.

Student Code of Conduct

All 21 students arrested on April 30 are guaranteed due process pursuant to NAU’s policies. Remedial responses, if necessary, will be based on individual case reviews. Two students facing felony charges have been trespassed from campus and received interim suspensions. The other 19 students have not been interim suspended and have no restrictions on completing the semester. All students will proceed through standard conduct processes in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct Procedures. In addition, all students arrested have been provided CARE resources through the university to provide support during this time. Our commitment to an educational approach in these proceedings remains steadfast.

Support for NAU employees

NAU strictly prohibits retaliation against any employee in the workplace and has resources available to address any such incidents. These have been shared in the May 3 letter to the Faculty Senate.

Resources for members of the NAU community

NAU has resources available to students and employees to support them in light of these and other events. These resources are always available to support the wellbeing of our university community:

On Demonstrators’ Evolving Set of Demands

Calls to abolish the NAU Police Department

The NAU Police Department is essential for providing a safe learning, living and working environment and as such is an integral part of our university and will not be abolished.

Information on university investments

NAU’s institutional investment and procurement practices are aligned and in compliance with applicable state and federal laws, including Arizona prohibitions relating to the boycott of goods or services from Israel. An endowment for the benefit of NAU students, programs and places exists, which is comprised of private donations—not student tuition or fee dollars. This endowment is managed by a non-profit corporation.

Information on university lobbying

NAU does not engage in lobbying for or against any companies or politicians, as it is legally prohibited from doing so.

Information on demonstrators’ response to calls for open dialogue

On May 3, President Cruz Rivera invited demonstrators near the union to a conversation about open dialogue. Over the weekend, demonstrators identified as the Students for Justice in Palestine presented new demands. After careful consideration, the president has decided to postpone dialogue until due process for student conduct procedures related to April 30 events concludes. Among the reasons that led to this decision:

  • A renewed attempt at open dialogue was met with unworkable preconditions, casting doubt on demonstrators’ willingness to engage constructively.
  • The “no questions allowed” press conference organized by demonstrators on May 5 continued the trend of spreading inaccurate allegations, hindering prospects for meaningful dialogue.
  • Conflicting messages added complexity, blurring lines of representation. For example, on May 6, a new group named “The Student Movement for Palestinian Liberation” demanded an urgent meeting with the administration near the Union, despite SJP’s previous refusal to meet until certain preconditions were met.
  • The wide gap between the demonstrators’ demands and the institutional constraints dictated by university policies and state and federal laws is evident. Recent actions and communications have only emphasized this division. Demands such as “reforg[ing] a university divorced from the fundamentally immoral economic and political system of the United States,” which is impractical for a public institution, and threats to “seize control of our institutions… until Palestine is free,” indicate that productive dialogue may not be feasible at present.
NAU Communications