Protest and Activism: Know Your Rights

Protest and Activism

Engaging in Protests

Students at University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a legacy of protest and activism at the university. Protesting allows students to speak out when they disagree with opinions, policies, or politics or want to challenge injustices. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects demonstration, peaceful protest, and freedom of expression of one’s beliefs. International students are also protected by this first amendment and are welcome to participate in lawful public protests and demonstrations.

We encourage all students who are interested in participating in protest and activism to know their rights and prepare accordingly.

Planning Ahead

When participating in a protest, go with friends and have a back-up plan. We recommend that you read what protest organizers post about their planned demonstrations so you know the route and can make an informed decision before you go. Participating in the organized demonstrations early on is a safe way to engage in peaceful protest.

Social Distancing and Masks

In the year 2020, we are still combatting COVID-19. If you attend a protest, please practice social distancing (maintain 6 feet between you and others) and wear a mask. Take hand sanitizer and water with you as well.

There are many ways to protest and practice activism. If you do not want to participate in person, you can donate to causes you believe in, educate yourself, share your voice with your individual platforms, etc.

Know Your Rights

You have the right to remain silent and not discuss your citizenship or immigration status with the police, immigration agents, or other officials. Read about how to respond to immigration questions if you are stopped by the police.

Common Questions about Protest and Activism from International Students

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Can I participate in protests?

Yes. You are able to participate in peaceful protests. Know your rights and be prepared to respond to challenges if protests escalate.

What happens if I get arrested?

If you are fearful of getting arrested, we encourage you to watch this video from the ACLU. If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent. We encourage you to consult with an attorney before talking to the police.

Will I get COVID-19 if I protest?

COVID-19 is still prevalent in Wisconsin. You are encouraged to take safety measures such as wearing masks and socially distancing if you participate in any protests.

Will participating in protests affect my visa status?

Any arrests or criminal charges can have an impact on your visa status. We encourage you to be careful and safe if you engage in protest and know your rights.