University of Maine System Policy Manual: Free Speech, Academic Freedom, & Civility

Relevant excerpt

The Board of Trustees is committed to protecting the rights all University community members share to free speech, which includes free expression and assembly, as enshrined in the U.S. and Maine State Constitutions. There shall be no restriction at any System institutions on these fundamental rights, although the University may prohibit speech that violates the law, defames specific individuals, genuinely threatens or harasses others, or violates privacy or confidentiality requirements or interests. The University may also reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of the exercise of these rights to preserve order for the System’s universities to function as institutions of higher learning.

Free speech requires tolerance for diversity of opinion and respect for an individual’s right to express his or her beliefs, however unpopular they may be, without social or legal prohibition or fear of sanction. Tolerating and respecting another’s views, however, does not mean those views are immune from critical scrutiny. Indeed, it is the university’s responsibility to foster an environment where all are free to critically evaluate the ideas presented to them, and to accept critical evaluation of their own ideas.

Finally, although the University System greatly values civility and expects community members to share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, demands for civility and mutual respect will not be used to justify restricting the discussion or expression of ideas or speech that may be disagreeable or even offensive to some members of the University community. Free speech is not absolute, and one person’s claim to exercise his or her right to free speech may not be used to deny another person’s right to free speech.

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