Upcoming Free Expression Events

Nov. 2, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

I write to share an update on the final stretch of our free expression work this semester.

As you may recall, I convened the Task Force on Free Expression in spring 2019 and charged it with determining whether the University would benefit from a definitive statement on free expression, and if so, with drafting a statement for our community’s consideration. After carefully studying the issue over seven months, the Task Force determined the University would benefit from having a statement, rooted in our educational mission and institutional values, and drafted a Recommended Statement on Free Expression, which we shared with the community last spring.

This month, we will host three community events in which we will consider possible modifications to the recommended Statement to ensure it accurately reflects our University’s values and aspirations.

  • Primer on Campus Free Expression with Dr. Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill of the Bipartisan Policy Center and President Ronald Crutcher (Nov. 5 at 12:30 p.m.) This event will be open to students, faculty, and staff and will aim to enrich our community’s understanding of the First Amendment, define key terms relevant to free expression, and encourage feedback on the University’s recommended Statement. You can register for the event here.
  • Campus Free Expression for Students (Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m.) We will co-host this information session with the student government associations with the aim of providing more information on campus free expression and soliciting student feedback on the recommended Statement. You can register for the event here.
  • Free Expression Statement Discussion with Faculty and Staff (Nov. 12 at 3 p.m.) Professor of Law Hank Chambers will moderate a discussion in which several faculty and staff will share their perspectives on the recommended Statement. President Crutcher and Provost Legro will join the discussion, during which faculty and staff can ask questions and share feedback on the recommended Statement. You can register for the event here.

After these events, the community will have until Dec. 1 to provide any additional feedback on the recommended Statement here. Once the feedback period closes, Provost Legro and I will carefully assess our community’s input and make a determination about any modifications or additions to the recommended Statement. We will do so by mid-December and then send the Statement to the Board of Trustees for their endorsement.

The final Statement will not be a policy, but rather a living document reflecting our guiding principles with respect to free expression at this moment in our history. The Statement will always remain open to debate and reconsideration, enlivened by the words and deeds of each new generation of Spiders.

Thank you for your engagement with this critically important work. I am grateful for the feedback we have already received about the recommended Statement and look forward to continuing the conversation in the weeks ahead.


Ronald A. Crutcher