commitment to free speech

By August 28, 2013

As an institution that exists for the express purposes of education, research, and public service, the University is dependent upon the unfettered flow of ideas, not only in the classroom and the laboratory, but also in all University activities. As such, protecting freedom of expression is of central importance to the University. The exchange of diverse viewpoints may expose people to ideas some find offensive, even abhorrent. The way that ideas are expressed may cause discomfort to those who disagree with them. The appropriate response to such speech is speech expressing opposing ideas and continued dialogue, not curtailment of speech.

Commitment to Free Speech

By August 28, 2013

Free speech is uniquely important to the University because we are a community committed to reason and rational discourse. Free interchange of ideas is vital for our primary function of discovering and disseminating ideas through research, teaching, and learning. Curtailment of free speech undercuts the intellectual freedom that defines our purpose. It also deprives some individuals of the right to express unpopular views and others of the right to listen to unpopular views.

Because no other community defines itself so much in terms of knowledge, few others place such a high priority on freedom of speech. As a community, we take certain risks by assigning such a high priority to free speech. We assume that the long-term benefits to our community will outweigh the short-term unpleasant effects of sometimes-noxious views. Because we are a community united by a commitment to rational processes, we do not permit censorship of noxious ideas. We are committed to maintaining a climate in which reason and speech provide the correct response to a disagreeable idea.

Members of the University do not share similar political or philosophical views, nor would such agreement be desirable. They do share, however, a concern for the community defined in terms of free inquiry and dissemination of ideas. Thus, they share a commitment to policies that allow diverse opinions to flourish and to be heard. In the words of the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities, the University must protect “the rights of its members to organize and join political associations, convene and conduct public meetings, publicly demonstrate and picket in orderly fashion, advocate and publicize opinion by print, sign, and voice.