FIRE Launches Campaign in Support of University of Chicago Free Speech Statement

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Chicago

During September 2015, FIRE launched a national campaign asking colleges and universities to adopt the free speech policy statement produced by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago. The statement guarantees “all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn,” and makes clear that “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

FIRE wrote hundreds of faculty members, students, and student journalists at institutions nationwide to build momentum in support of the Chicago statement.

Pledge Your Support for the Chicago Statement on Free Expression

  • University of Chicago Leads the Way for Academic Freedom

    October 1, 2015

    By Aleister at College Insurrection Greg Lukianoff of The FIRE recently wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post which is worth a read. It focuses on academic freedom at the University of Chicago. Every University in the Country Should Adopt the University of Chicago’s Academic Freedom Statement Though far from over, 2015 may be remembered as a year when free speech and academic freedom on campus took center stage. From the months-long Title IX “inquisition” waged against Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis, to students in Utah and Texas being confined to tiny “free speech zones,” to the University of California’s Orwellian […]

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  • Battling for Free Speech: Way Too Little Too Late

    September 30, 2015

    By Bernie Reeves at National Review Is there hope? University of Chicago professor Geoffrey R. Stone and vice president Will Creeley of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) have joined together to write yet another in a long line of useless jeremiads lamenting what has become a hopeless epidemic of protected speech in higher education. And like the others who cry out that Western civilization is doomed, the authors offer a placebo, not a cure. In the so-called “Chicago statement” on the issue, the authors make clear that “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to […]

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  • Univ. of Chicago Held Up as National Model for Free Speech

    September 29, 2015

    By Peter Fricke at Campus Reform FIRE announced it is embarking on a national campaign to encourage schools to adopt a version of a statement approved by Chicago’s Committee on Freedom of Expression. The statement disavows the suppression of any ideas simply because they might be offensive or distasteful. A policy statement produced earlier this year by the University of Chicago affirming the school’s commitment to free speech is being held up as a national model for other schools to adopt. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) announced Monday that it is embarking on a national campaign to […]

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  • Recommit to Free Speech on Campus: Our View

    September 16, 2015

    By Editorial at USA Today Give leaders at the University of Chicago  an “A” for standing up for much-beleaguered freedom of speech on campus, and hand an “F” to many of the nation’s colleges and universities for running in the opposite direction. In recent years, the assault on campus free speech has often been led by an unlikely source: the students whose predecessors a generation ago were at the vanguard of debate and protest. Sometimes the motive is the usual suspect, liberal political correctness that seeks to scrub colleges of any conservative ideas. But recently, a desire by students to protect themselves and others […]

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  • Faculty council at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill adopts ‘Chicago Statement’

    April 16, 2018

    The governing faculty body at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted last week to endorse a free speech policy statement based on the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (better known as the “Chicago Statement”). In doing so, UNC – Chapel Hill joins 36 other like-minded institutions that have chosen to prioritize free speech by adopting a principled statement on free expression. Affirming the importance of debate and discourse on its campus, the faculty council’s resolution “On Principles for the Promotion and Protection of Free Speech” seeks to memorialize the […]

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  • Increasing calls for adoption of the ‘Chicago Statement’ on free expression

    March 15, 2018

    FIRE has touted the benefits of adopting a free speech policy modeled after the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (better known as the “Chicago Statement”) since its introduction in 2015. In recent weeks, several commentators have joined FIRE — and many others — to encourage colleges and universities to adopt a principled statement on freedom of expression. In a recent Forbes article entitled “35 Universities Adopt ‘The Chicago Statement’ On Free Speech–1,606 To Go,” the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Tom Lindsay encourages institutions to adopt a free speech policy modeled after the […]

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  • Universities should endorse free expression now, avoid criticism later

    October 20, 2017

    In the latest iteration of targeted fliers on college campuses, Cleveland State University (CSU) students woke up Monday morning to find buildings plastered with posters urging members of the LGBT community to commit suicide. However vile one may find them to be, these posters are protected under the First Amendment. Rightfully, CSU President Ronald Berkman released a statement addressing the incident and affirming CSU’s simultaneous commitments to free speech, inclusiveness, and civil discourse. But for many members of the campus community, that wasn’t enough. Berkman quickly became the target of widespread outrage, with critics claiming he did not denounce the […]

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  • California legislature unanimously urges colleges to adopt free speech policies consistent with the ‘Chicago Statement’

    August 15, 2017

    The California legislature unanimously passed a resolution that urges “all private and public universities in California” to adopt free speech statements modeled off of the Chicago Statement and a statement issued by the Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, Howard Gillman. The resolution was introduced by Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley and Bill Quirk. It passed the California Assembly 76-0 and the Senate 39-0. The resolution contains quotes from a number of notable figures to frame for colleges the principles of free expression, and why those principles need to be protected and promoted on campuses in California. The resolution quotes University […]

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  • Georgetown University adopts ‘Chicago Statement’

    June 15, 2017

    The fight to defend free speech just got a boost at Georgetown University. FIRE is pleased to announce that last week Georgetown joined a growing list of colleges and universities that have adopted policy statements committing themselves to protecting free speech that closely mirror the University of Chicago’s “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression,” better known as the “Chicago Statement.” Georgetown’s new policy statement, which was approved by the faculty senate, board of directors, and President John J. DeGioia, comes amidst a long and heated nationwide debate over campus free speech rights. You may recall that Georgetown itself […]

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  • University of Missouri adopts commitment to free speech, new guidelines on campus expressive activity

    June 2, 2017

    In a welcome development for students’ and faculty members’ First Amendment rights, the University of Missouri, Columbia (Mizzou) has adopted both a policy statement committing the university to free speech principles as well as a series of policies related to free expression, assembly, and protest designed to provide robust protections for campus expressive activity. Mizzou, of course, made national headlines when student protests broke out on campus in the fall of 2015. In addition to drawing attention to their cause, the student protesters’ expression highlighted the need to improve protections for freedom of speech at colleges and universities throughout the […]

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  • Students come together for UChicago free speech meetup, release statement

    May 1, 2017

    At the urging of a FIRE Student Network member, a small group of students from across the country converged on the University of Chicago this weekend with a big goal: Start a free speech movement. Inside Higher Ed reports 25 students from various colleges and universities met “to try to start a movement in which students would become leading defenders of free speech on campus — including speech that they find offensive.” “Free speech and expression is and must remain a truly nonpartisan issue,” said event organizer, FIRE Student Network member, and UChicago undergraduate Matthew Foldi in a written statement […]

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  • Leadership roundup: How college leaders are answering questions about free speech

    April 25, 2017

    Controversy around free speech on college campuses seems to only be escalating: Charles Murray’s disastrous visit to Middlebury College, the violent response to Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to the University of California, Berkeley, the shutting down of Heather Mac Donald’s Claremont McKenna College event, and just last week, Berkeley’s attempt to shut down Ann Coulter’s visit to the birthplace of the free speech movement, which has already prompted a lawsuit. After a free speech controversy engulfs a college community, campus leaders are often left with questions from students, faculty, alumni, and the press about where the school stands on the issues. […]

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  • ‘So to Speak’ podcast: ‘Sex and the Constitution’ with professor Geoffrey R. Stone

    April 20, 2017

    Sex and the Constitution are not two topics often thought of together. But University of Chicago Law School professor Geoffrey R. Stone seeks to change that with the publication of “Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century.” The newly released, 700-page book from the author of the University of Chicago’s seminal Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression is 10 years in the making. Stone’s comprehensive review extends all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans to explain how sex came to be legislated in America. Professor Stone is […]

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  • In wake of Middlebury incident, speech-friendly UChicago releases promising ‘Disruptive Conduct’ report

    March 8, 2017

    Just days after violent protests over a speech by writer and academic Charles Murray roiled Middlebury College in Vermont and left FIRE openly wondering if we were witnessing “the death of liberty on campus,” an announcement from the University of Chicago suggests hope on the horizon. In an email to the university community late yesterday, UChicago Provost Daniel Diermeier announced that a committee formed last year to “review and make recommendations about procedures for student disciplinary matters involving disruptive conduct including interference with freedom of inquiry or debate” had completed its work and released its report. News of UChicago’s freshly-completed […]

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  • Could It Be a Trend? More Colleges Endorse Free Speech After UChicago

    September 8, 2016

    FIRE is seeing an encouraging uptick in pro-free speech statements by college administrators early in this academic year. In just a few weeks’ time, administrators at schools like Columbia University, Brown University, and Claremont Mckenna College (CMC) have all made public statements committing to protect freedom of expression on campus. The catalyst for this recent batch of speech-friendly statements seems to be the “academic freedom letter” the University of Chicago (UChicago) sent to incoming students last month, advising them not to expect “intellectual ‘safe spaces’” when they arrive on campus. The letter was widely reported on, and reignited the national […]

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  • Sign FIRE’s ‘Thank You’ Note to the University of Chicago [UPDATED]

    September 7, 2016

    Update (September 7, 2016): Many thanks to the 884 people who signed FIRE’s “Thank You” note to the University of Chicago (UChicago). FIRE sent the note to UChicago President Robert J. Zimmer, Dean of Students in the College and “academic freedom letter” author Jay Ellison, and law professor Geoffrey R. Stone yesterday.   If you missed your chance to sign the note, don’t worry: It’s not too late to help effect change on campus. Pledge your support today to the Chicago Statement on Free Expression and ask your school or alma mater to do the same. The University of Chicago […]

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  • BACK TO SCHOOL: How Students and Faculty Can Help Codify Free Speech on Campus

    September 1, 2016

    As the new academic year gets underway on university campuses, students and faculty members concerned about the climate for free speech in higher education may be wondering how they can help. With topics such as “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” “hate speech,” and many more continuing to be debated, the start of a new academic year presents a great opportunity for free speech advocates on campus to make a difference. Fortunately, FIRE is here to assist you, and we have some helpful ideas and tips. If you have been following our website this week, you may have already read our FAQs […]

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  • Think Trigger Warnings Are Never Mandatory on Campus? Think Again.

    August 31, 2016

    Last week, the University of Chicago (UChicago) sent a letter to incoming students affirming the university’s commitment to robust and even uncomfortable dialogue and debate on campus. While many—including FIRE—lauded the university’s statement, some critics argued that the letter’s statement that it does not support “so-called ‘trigger warnings’” was unnecessary since no universities actually mandate trigger warnings. For example, the New Republic’s Jeet Heer accused UChicago of “attacking academic freedom,” quoting a tweet from City University of New York professor Angus Johnston: A professor’s use of trigger warnings isn’t a threat to academic freedom. It’s a MANIFESTATION of academic freedom. […]

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  • University of Southern Indiana Adopts the Chicago Statement

    August 31, 2016

    The University of Southern Indiana (USI) has added the Chicago Statement—the FIRE-endorsed principles declaring free expression paramount on campus—to its employee handbook. USI joins more than a dozen other institutions at which faculty or administrative bodies have formally endorsed the 2015 University of Chicago (UChicago)-authored statement, which FIRE has called the gold standard for free speech policy statements in higher education. “We believe that that statement really speaks to the way the university believes we should be approaching and interpreting speech,” said Kindra Strupp, USI’s Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications. While some schools have chosen to tailor the […]

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  • Professor Geoffrey Stone Explains the Importance of the Chicago Statement

    August 27, 2016

    Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday, Professor Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago (UChicago) explains the importance, necessity, and practicality of the committee report on free expression he and other UChicago faculty members authored last year. The “Chicago Statement,” as the report has come to be known, has proven widely influential, and has since been adopted by other institutions and faculty bodies nationwide and endorsed by FIRE. Explaining why universities should recognize the core principles undergirding the statement, Professor Stone writes: First, bitter experience has taught that even the ideas we hold to be most certain often […]

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  • University of Chicago President: ‘Questioning and Challenge Must Flourish’

    August 26, 2016

    The University of Chicago (UChicago) generated national headlines this week after sending incoming students a letter promising “the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas” and criticizing trigger warnings, disinvitations, and “intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” Authored by Dean of Students Jay Ellison, the letter has reawakened an ongoing debate about the locus of threats to free expression in higher education. Critics like the New Republic’s Jeet Heer charge that by articulating an institutional opposition to the use of trigger warnings, the letter “constitutes a chilling […]

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  • U. Chicago’s ‘Academic Freedom’ Letter a Win for Campus Speech [UPDATED]

    August 25, 2016

    The University of Chicago (UC) has pushed back against the nationwide trend toward student-led calls for censorship with a letter to incoming students telling them not to expect “intellectual ‘safe spaces’” when they arrive on campus this fall. FIRE hopes this will be the first of many requests from colleges and universities asking students to recommit to freedom of expression this academic year. Importantly, UC has confirmed to FIRE that its statement that it does “not support so-called ‘trigger warnings’” is not a ban on that practice. Critics today have charged that the statement might undermine academic freedom: If UC […]

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  • Harvard Law’s Randall Kennedy Praises Chicago Statement in Princeton Commencement Address

    June 1, 2016

    Addressing Princeton University’s Class of 2016 on Sunday, Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy singled out Princeton’s adoption of the University of Chicago’s statement on campus free expression as one of the reasons Princeton students are especially well-suited to become “ambassadors of higher education” when they graduate. Kennedy said, “Being an ambassador for higher education means embracing opportunities to advance the best versions of collegiate and university life.” He asked students to be mindful of the important role of higher education in society and reminded them that colleges and universities need the help of former students. He told the new […]

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  • College Trustees Reject Free Speech Statement Approved by Franklin & Marshall Faculty

    May 30, 2016

    The good news is that the faculty adopted a version of the University of Chicago’s exemplary statement on campus free expression last semester. F&M becomes the 13th institution at which a faculty body or the administration itself has endorsed a version of the Chicago Statement since FIRE endorsed it in January of 2015 as the gold standard for campus commitments to free speech. The bad news is that F&M’s board of trustees says the college itself will not commit to such a strong statement in favor of free speech, citing “legal” concerns and expressing worry over the “delicate balance” involving “uninhibited […]

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  • CUNY University Faculty Senate Affirms Principles of the Chicago Statement

    April 26, 2016

    In a promising development for freedom of speech at the City University of New York (CUNY), the CUNY Faculty Senate has passed a resolution affirming the principles of the Chicago Statement on freedom of expression (formally, the Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago). With membership comprised of representatives from all 25 colleges and graduate schools in the CUNY system, the University Faculty Senate represents the faculty of the entire system on this issue. While plenty of work remains before CUNY as an institution can be said to have officially adopted the Chicago Statement, […]

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  • Louisiana State University’s Faculty Senate Adopts Chicago Statement

    February 23, 2016

    Louisiana State University’s (LSU’s) faculty senate adopted a resolution yesterday affirming its commitment to free speech on campus. The group’s vote makes LSU the tenth institution at which faculty or administrators have formally endorsed the University of Chicago’s policy statement on freedom of expression, which FIRE has promoted as the gold standard for speech policy statements in higher education. LSU’s faculty senate has acted at a particularly tenuous moment for free speech at LSU, having first introduced the resolution late last month, on the same day former LSU professor Teresa Buchanan announced her FIRE-sponsored Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project […]

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  • ‘The Economist’ Covers Chicago Statement on Free Speech and FIRE

    January 29, 2016

    The Economist explores the growing trend of colleges adopting the University of Chicago’s free speech policy statement in its latest issue, out tomorrow. The Chicago statement sets forth important principles for protecting free speech on campus, and its adoption can help secure the kind of free and open discourse necessary to the pursuit of knowledge. FIRE formally endorsed the statement in early 2015 and launched a national campaign in September encouraging other institutions to adopt it. The Economist cites publicity surrounding recent high-profile speech controversies on our nation’s campuses for the uptick in interest in adoption of the Chicago statement, […]

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  • University of Wisconsin’s Board of Regents Passes Free Speech Statement

    December 11, 2015

    This morning, the University of Wisconsin System’s (UW’s) Board of Regents passed a policy statement affirming the system’s commitment to free speech. The UW statement is substantially similar to the “Chicago Statement,” the free speech policy statement produced by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago earlier this year, according to UW-Madison political science professor Donald Downs. Downs, along with a small group of professors and regents, helped craft the version of the statement presented to the board. “What we have is very similar to the Chicago standard, which is the gold standard,” Downs said. FIRE […]

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  • Chapman University Chancellor Stresses Importance of Free Speech

    December 2, 2015

    Last weekend, Chapman University Chancellor Daniele C. Struppa wrote a great piece in The Orange County Register on the meaning of free expression and the recent efforts on college campuses to censor offensive speech. Chancellor Struppa uses the example of the constitutionally protected act of flag burning, which he finds extremely offensive, to explain America’s commitment to freedom of expression. He states: Our belief in freedom is such that we will defend those who demonstrate their dissent through an act that almost any country outlaws. The willingness to accept such an offensive action is proof of our commitment to freedom […]

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  • FIRE Launches Campaign in Support of University of Chicago Free Speech Statement

    September 28, 2015

    PHILADELPHIA, September 28, 2015—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is launching a national campaign asking colleges and universities to adopt the free speech policy statement produced by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago earlier this year. In Sunday’s edition of The Washington Post, University of Chicago law professor and interim dean Geoffrey Stone and FIRE’s Will Creeley explained in an op-ed why the Chicago statement is urgently needed on campuses nationwide. FIRE has written hundreds of faculty members, students, and student journalists at institutions nationwide to build momentum in support of the […]

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  • University of Minnesota Student Leads Charge for Chicago Principles

    September 18, 2015

    Momentum is building nationwide behind a push for adoption of the University of Chicago’s statement in support of freedom of expression on campus, endorsed by FIRE this past January. On Wednesday, USA TODAY’s editorial board penned a stirring call for the statement’s widespread adoption, echoing a New York Daily News editorial from late August. Now students are joining the chorus as well. Last week, University of Minnesota student Jasper Johnson took to the pages of the Minnesota Daily to argue for the adoption of the Chicago principles. Making the case that protecting even offensive speech would ultimately benefit his fellow […]

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  • Purdue University Eliminates All of Its Speech Codes, Earns FIRE’s Highest Rating

    May 15, 2015

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., May 15, 2015—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is pleased to announce that Purdue University has earned FIRE’s highest, “green light” rating for free speech. With help from FIRE, Purdue revised its speech-related policies to comply with the First Amendment. Purdue further affirmed its commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression by adopting a statement similar to the University of Chicago’s laudable statement on academic freedom, endorsed by FIRE in January. “We’re proud to add Purdue to the growing list of green light institutions,” said Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program. […]

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  • University of Chicago Student Journalists Lament School’s Support of Free Speech

    January 15, 2015

    Last week, the University of Chicago’s (UC’s) Committee on Freedom of Expression published a free speech policy statement, which “guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.” FIRE proudly endorsed the statement and recommends that other universities adopt a similar statement. However, the statement failed to impress those who should understand the necessity of free speech on UC’s campus the most: the editorial board of UC’s student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon. In an editorial last week, the Maroon editorial board committed one of the worst “We believe in free speech, […]

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  • FIRE Endorses University of Chicago’s New Free Speech Statement

    January 7, 2015

    CHICAGO, January 7, 2015—Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) endorses the free speech policy statement produced by the Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago. Yesterday, the Committee, chaired by esteemed law professor Geoffrey Stone, released this powerful new report on the importance of freedom of expression on campus. The Committee’s statement declares: “Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. … [I]t is not the proper role of the […]

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