Civil Unrest

Civil Unrest Emergency Action Guidelines


College and University campuses have long been a focal point for civil unrest during periods of significant cultural changes. This is due to the nature of the mission of higher education in promoting civil discourse on a broad array of topics. At times, civil discourse can turn into civil unrest where activities that violate policies and laws lead to violence and property damage. Unfortunately, civil unrest does not enhance understanding of the issues, but rather moves parties toward incivility. Similarly, we can be passionate about our sports teams. While this is what we want, some fans (and even non-fans) use the extreme outcomes of sporting events as an excuse to do things they would otherwise never consider doing. When the mob mentality takes over, it can turn dangerous almost instantly.

While the University is an advocate for expressive activities and passionate fans, we must prepare our campus community for those rare situations when it turns into civil unrest. These protective actions are designed to provide for the safety of our campus community. The complete Expressive Activity policy can be found in G5.02 Expressive Activity Policy.



  1. Situational Awareness: stay alert and informed. Watch for MSU Alerts, monitor social media and listen to other forms of media. Most importantly, use your own senses: your eyes and ears can be lifesavers.


  1. If you are not in the area, do not go to the area. Everyone is curious about major events and would like to see it first hand; however, this compounds the problem by making access by law enforcement more difficult and requiring more assistance to keep onlookers safe from the unrest.


  1. If you are near the area, leave as quickly as possible. Everyone is curious, but these are serious situations that can have a devastating impact on individuals and our campus. Mob mentality occurs fast and you do not want to be caught in it. Delays put you at risk.


  1. If you are caught in the crowd, stay neutral, go with the flow and move toward the edge at an angle to get away. You do not want to stand out by drawing attention to yourself by trying to defuse the situation or getting into a heated argument. In addition, as police work to instill order, panic will often ensue leading to crowd crush. You need to be away from the center where you have the best chance of not being trampled.


  1. Comply with all law enforcement directives. They do not know who have been innocently caught up in the unrest and those that are the instigators. They will be working quickly to separate the crowd and will not be taking the time to hear every explanation on why someone is there.


  1. If you are in a vehicle, lock doors, roll up windows and get away before the crowd surrounds it; however, avoid using the vehicle to push through the crowd. Using the vehicle to push through will likely cause a strong reaction from the crowd.


  1. If you are not the target of the aggression, consider abandoning your vehicle to escape. Vehicles often become targets of the violence. You do not want to be caught inside.


  1. If you are the target of the aggression, such as having bottles and rocks thrown while you are in your vehicle, you need to get away immediately. When it gets to this point, you are now in immediate danger. Try to drive away. Getting out of your car will likely lead to serious injury.