Civility and speech amid the Israel-Hamas war

March 24, 2024

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Earlier this year, the university adopted a new set of principles reaffirming our commitment to free speech. As underscored in those principles, our commitment to freedom of expression rests alongside our commitment to nurturing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Today, we write to make clear that our commitment to free expression does not extend to threats, or to any kind of conduct that violates the law or university policy.

On Friday afternoon, a Michigan student posted a message on Instagram that speaks of “death and worse” for supporters of Israel. We unequivocally condemn the student’s message. It is the very opposite of the values and ideals we hold dear. The message caused fear and pain across our community. It does not represent who we are or who we hope to be.

We are better than this. The university denounces all calls for violence in the strongest possible terms.

Following the Instagram post, the university, out of an abundance of caution, increased security patrols on and around campus. We maintain several avenues for reporting threatening behavior, and we encourage students to contact us if they see or experience something that raises concern. Violations of law or University policy will result in appropriate consequences, up to and including expulsion. Conduct that may violate criminal law will be referred to federal, state, or local prosecutors.

Many of our students, faculty and staff have personal connections to Gaza and Israel, which have been devastated by war and violence. People have lost loved ones. They are angry, exhausted and hurting.

In these challenging times, we must remember that we are a community and we have a responsibility to one another. We may disagree vehemently over issues that have profound impacts on our world. However, we must also take time to speak carefully, to act with thoughtfulness and to always treat one another with civility.

We must always recognize our shared humanity, our shared commitment to one another, and to our university.

Martino Harmon, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life