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‘Green light’ school Arizona State University embraces Chicago Statement

Arizona State University, a longtime “green light” school, has become the 45th institution at which the administration or a faculty body has endorsed the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (the “Chicago Statement”).

The university, which earned a green light rating in 2011 for its speech-related policies, is part of an elite group of only 42 institutions in the entire country that earn FIRE’s highest speech code rating. Not only is ASU part of this commendable group of colleges and universities with written policies that do not endanger the expressive rights of student and faculty, it now joins a handful of other green light institutions that have also adopted the Chicago Statement.

ASU’s new statement memorializes the university’s overriding commitment to free expression, noting that the Chicago Statement is “fully consistent with ASU’s existing policies.” Borrowing from the eloquent prose of the Chicago Statement, it opens with a promise: “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.”

“The very purpose of a university is to facilitate the free and open exchange of ideas that lead to the creation of new knowledge, and the only way to fulfill that ideal is to create environments that support and protect the freedom of expression,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “ASU has a long-standing commitment to free speech and continues to identify ways in which our students, faculty and staff recognize this as a core principle for the university.”

ASU’s statement outlines narrow exceptions defined by law where the university may properly restrict expression, but reiterates that speech may never be suppressed simply because it is unpopular, offensive, or wrong. Members of the campus community are encouraged to “openly and vigorously contest[] the ideas that they oppose.” Accordingly, ASU pledges to create a campus environment that “foster[s] the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation.”

Currently, ASU maintains six green light policies and serves as a model for other universities looking to revise and fine-tune their own speech codes. With the adoption of this statement, ASU has demonstrated to its students, faculty, alumni, and the public that free inquiry and lively debate are encouraged and valued on its campus. FIRE commends the university for doing so.

Interested in advocating for a free speech statement on your campus? Students, you can win great prizes for doing so with FIRE’s fall 2018 activism toolkit: Commit to Expression. Faculty or community member? Contact us today for ways you can get involved!

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