The Intersection of Free Expression and Inclusivity

This set of Frequently Asked Questions summarizes the University’s policies and practices related to the intersection of free expression, inclusivity, harassment and campus climate. In conjunction with its commitment to free and open inquiry on all matters, the University grants wide latitude to free expression (“free expression” and “free speech” are used interchangeably here), even when disagreeable or offensive. By allowing individuals this latitude to express their opinions – including through peaceful protests or demonstrations – the University makes it possible for everyone to advocate for their points of view and express dissent. All members of the campus community, including the University’s leadership, have the right to use their own speech to counter the speech of others.  

Free expression is most challenging when it is directed at others in ways they may find offensive. Because most forms of expression are protected even when viewed as “problematic,” the applicability of disciplinary systems is narrow. However, the University also greatly values inclusivity. It always responds to concerns about harmful expression in some way. It has many non-disciplinary resources and strategies to address harmful expression, to support those who have been affected, and to resolve conflict.