Tufts University, a longtime member of FIRE’s Red Alert list and one of the 12 Worst Colleges for free speech, has ample room for progress when it comes to respecting the fundamental rights of its students and faculty members. Highlighting Tufts’ record of suppressing speech again and again, as well as maintaining overly restrictive speech codes, FIRE has urged the administration to pursue comprehensive reform-and it seems we’re not the only ones.
In response to Tufts’ distinction as one of the "dirty dozen," student Jon Danzig (a member of FIRE’s Campus Freedom Network) co-authored and co-sponsored a resolution within the student senate supporting free speech:
S.12-9 A Resolution Supporting Freedom of Expression
WHEREAS the Tufts’ Board of Trustees adopted a university-wide Declaration on Freedom of Expression in November 2009, articulating that "[f]reedom of expression and inquiry are fundamental to the academic enterprise"; and
WHEREAS the Tufts Vision Statement reads, "Knowledge is important but alone is not enough. Learning must be lifelong. We will teach our students how to obtain, evaluate, and use information. We will prepare them to use historical perspective and to be receptive to new ideas. Our students will be sensitive to ethical issues and able to confront them"; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate unequivocally affirms the right of all students to freedom of speech and freedom of expression; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the TCU Senate unequivocally believes that freedom of expression applies equally to both popular and unpopular opinions; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the TCU Senate unequivocally urges President Monaco, the Trustees of Tufts College, all members of the Tufts University administration, all members of the Tufts University faculty, and all branches of the TCU government to respect and protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression at Tufts University, now and forever.
Respectfully submitted on 11 April 2012 by Jonathan Danzig, A12, and Tomas Garcia, A12. Passed 24-0-0.
This unanimous resolution is a significant step forward for Tufts, and we hope that President Monaco seriously considers its implications.
Danzig and other students concerned with freedom of expression on campus may next want to turn their attention to Tufts’ many speech codes, which constrain student expression. The mere existence of these codes chills speech in the very place it ought to thrive-a university campus.
The TCU Senate’s resolution to respect and protect freedom of speech is a great first step towards making the campus a true marketplace of ideas, but it should not be the last. I hope Tufts administrators work to fully embrace freedom of expression on campus.