Collins & Lacy’s Christian Stegmaier Authors White Paper to Guide Universities Through Campus Unrest – Advisory to University Leadership Responding to Campus Demonstrations, Protests, and Unrest: Balancing Order and Public Safety, Free Speech, and Civil Discourse

In the wake of recent campus demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, universities across the nation are facing challenges in managing protests that balance safety, free speech, and civil discourse. As lawyers who have represented several colleges and universities in South Carolina, I’ve penned an extended white paper aimed at guiding university administrators, trustees, and public safety officers through the difficulties relating to campus demonstration, protest, and unrest.

This white paper provides a comprehensive framework for university leadership, emphasizing the importance of clear policy frameworks, proactive leadership, and strategic collaboration with stakeholders such as law enforcement to ensure both safety and the upholding of academic freedoms. It delves into the dynamics of modern campus activism, heavily influenced by a profound sense of social justice and global awareness. I discuss the evolving role of faculty in guiding and moderating student activism to ensure it remains a constructive force within the university.

A significant portion of the advisory focuses on practical strategies such as establishing clear policies, promoting open dialogue, and enhancing educational programs to foster a culture of respect and understanding. These strategies are crucial for preventing and managing protests effectively, ensuring that responses are not only appropriate but also equitable and transparent.

In offering this guidance, I also bring to bear my track record in risk management and litigation, providing insights that can help universities not only respond to immediate challenges but also anticipate potential legal ramifications. The goal is to empower university administrators and stakeholders to manage protests and unrest not just reactively, but with a forward-looking approach that integrates safety, education, and respect for civil liberties.

For university leaders looking to navigate the complexities of campus demonstrations while upholding the sanctity of academic freedom and student rights, this paper serves as an essential resource. It underscores the need for a balanced approach that respects the vibrant discourse of university life while ensuring that campuses remain safe places for intellectual and social growth.

We are proud to provide our universities and colleges in South Carolina with this advisory and look to assist them in whatever way possible in the future.

The white paper can be found here.

About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or