Campus Speakers Statement

October 2017

Freedom of speech, for both invited speakers and community members, is a bedrock principle of our academic community.

We follow content-neutral procedures for speakers. These procedures include working to ensure the free speech rights and physical safety of the invited speaker(s) as well as all visitors and members of our community, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the speaker.

There are instances where some or many members of our community may find a speaker or the content of their speech reprehensible or hateful. A speaker’s appearance on our campus does not imply any endorsement.

By protecting the constitutional right to free speech and expression for those we disagree with, we are protecting our own right to express that disagreement. If our laws and practices allowed us to prevent objectionable speech, the very groups that today are exercising their own speech rights to protest against such a speaker, might have those rights threatened in the future.

We support this right for both visitors to our campus and anyone who engages in peaceful protest. Under this fundamental right, we are able to test or reject ideas as members of an academic community living in a free society.

The University of Michigan’s policy on Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression, notes that “Canceling, stopping an event, adjourning to another time or place, or allowing protracted interruption of a speech, meeting, or performance is inconsistent with full respect for the rights of free expression and communication of those present.”

Our policy further states that “expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not only for those who espouse a cause or position and then defend it, but also for those who hear and pass judgment on that defense. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, or in any other way detestable cannot be grounds for its suppression.”

Obstructing or disrupting public speakers, activities, or programs of the university can be a violation of the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities and such behavior will be handled through our established process noted in the Statement.

Education and research at U-M benefit from broad diversity of thought and experience. Our commitment to freedom of expression goes hand in hand with our academic excellence and our value to society.

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