Free Speech Statement

Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta.

Freedom of thought, inquiry, speech and lawful assembly are fundamental rights of all persons. These rights include the freedom to express opinions; to hear, express and debate various views, no matter how unpopular; and to voice criticism. Free speech is uniquely important to the University as it brings about a free interchange of ideas integral to the University’s fundamental mission of teaching, research and public service.

Protests and civil disobedience have played an historic role on the University campuses, in bringing important and beneficial changes within society, and in the development of our democracy. However, civil disobedience is not protected speech under the Constitution.The Constitution does not guarantee any right to engage in civil disobedience – which, by its very definition, involves the violation of laws or regulations – without incurring consequences. Civil disobedience may have a negative effect on the protected interests of others and may interfere with University business or threaten public safety or University assets, in ways that may require the University to act to protect those other interests.