A faculty committee at the University of Minnesota voted to provisionally approve a free speech resolution in a 7–2 vote today—a significant first step in getting the resolution formally adopted by UMN.
The resolution states:
Ideas are the lifeblood of a free society and universities are its beating heart. If freedom of speech is undermined on a university campus, it is not safe anywhere. The University of Minnesota resolves that the freedom of speech is, and will always be, safe at this institution.
To ensure that speech is protected, UMN would adhere to “four core principles”:
(1) A public university must be absolutely committed to protecting free speech, both for constitutional and academic reasons.
(2) Free speech includes protection for speech that some find offensive, uncivil, or even hateful.
(3) Free speech cannot be regulated on the ground that some speakers are thought to have more power or more access to the mediums of speech than others.
(4) Even when protecting free speech conflicts with other important University values, free speech must be paramount.
UMN Law School Professor Dale Carpenter called the approval an “important preliminary victory for free speech,” noting that there was more work to come.
“This is an important first step toward the full protection and greater appreciation of the freedom of speech at the University of Minnesota,” Carpenter told FIRE. “Vigorous debate, even if it makes us uncomfortable, is an indispensable part of the ‘climate’ that needs to be nurtured at any academic institution.”
FIRE will continue to watch this resolution as it progresses through the faculty senate and beyond.