Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression

Statement by Royster Harper, University of Michigan Vice President for Student Affairs, regarding policies on the protection of freedom of speech and artistic expression

“The University of Michigan strives to create an environment in which diverse opinions can be expressed and heard. It is a fundamental value of our University that all members of the community and their invited guests have a right to express their views and opinions, regardless of whether others may disagree with those expressions. This includes the right of protesters to oppose the expression of views or opinions of others, but not in such a way as to limit or prevent the speaker or performer’s freedom of expression.

“In 1988, the University of Michigan Civil Liberties Board outlined these rights and defined policies that will allow us to most fully protect the rights of speakers, performers, audience members and protesters alike. Their ‘Statement on Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression’ appears in our Student Handbook.

“We are reaffirming our commitment to these principles and have developed procedures for use in campus events that will allow us to more consistently implement the policies that were set forth by the Board. An important part of this process is giving full notice to members of our community and guests about our principles and policies.

“At major events, appropriate signs are being posted, and information is supplied in the program or in a flyer that outlines our procedures for handling protests. We also are having more thorough communication with the hosts of events and invited speakers or performers, so that all involved understand what to expect in the event of a protest. We hope this communication gives members of our community and guests a chance to thoughtfully consider the importance of freedom of expression on our campus, and to respect this fundamental value of our academic community.”

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