The University of Southern Indiana (USI) has added the Chicago Statement—the FIRE-endorsed principles declaring free expression paramount on campus—to its employee handbook. USI joins more than a dozen other institutions at which faculty or administrative bodies have formally endorsed the 2015 University of Chicago (UChicago)-authored statement, which FIRE has called the gold standard for free speech policy statements in higher education.
“We believe that that statement really speaks to the way the university believes we should be approaching and interpreting speech,” said Kindra Strupp, USI’s Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications.
While some schools have chosen to tailor the Chicago Statement to their institution’s specific needs, Strupp says USI elected to use the the bulk of the original statement along with a nod to UChicago.
“There was really no reason to rewrite it,” Strupp said of the Chicago Statement. “They did such a nice job that we just wanted to give them credit.”
Strupp noted that a recent campus expansion, combined with efforts by both faculty and administrators to recommit to free expression, created “a perfect storm” for change.
“Faculty looked at […] consider[ing] it at the same time that an administrative body was considering it,” she said.
The new language was formally incorporated over the summer and now appears in USI’s employee handbook, which governs faculty, staff, and administrators.
Strupp says USI’s student handbook will soon be updated to reflect the change as well.
Other institutions that have adopted some version of the Chicago Statement to date include Princeton University, Purdue University, Columbia University, and all 26 campuses of the University of Wisconsin System.
FIRE applauds USI for taking this important step on the path to protecting free expression on campus.