Freedom of Expression

“We are in an era when many people mistakenly treat free speech and inclusivity as competing values. Universities must nevertheless remain steadfastly devoted to both free speech and inclusivity. We need the benefit of multiple voices and perspectives, and we need real engagement among them…. The freedom of speech allows not only for genteel conversation but also for harsh language, impassioned argument, and provocative rhetoric. Of course, it also permits all of us to criticize statements that we find offensive or irresponsible, even if that speech is fully protected from punishment or discipline.” – President Christopher L. Eisgruber, "Why Mutual Respect Makes Free Speech Better", July 2020.

Princeton supports the free and open exchange of ideas among our community members and believes that free speech is essential to university life.

Our Statement on Freedom of Expression and  Policy on the Classroom Learning Environment at section V.I in the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty explains Princeton’s commitment to free speech and protections for campus community members engaging in academic inquiry, peaceful protest, ordinary conversation, and online discussion.  Individuals have broad latitude to exercise their free speech, including the right to engage in Protests, Demonstrations, and Peaceful Dissent. See also University Sponsorship and/or Endorsement of Speakers and Programs.

We recognize that some situations involving offensive speech and expression can be challenging.  The FAQs on the Intersection of Freedom of Expression and Inclusivity provides insights into the University’s approach to responding to these types of incidents. 

In limited instances, the University may restrict expression that violates the law, falsely defames a specific individual, or constitutes a genuine threat or harassment. Incidents of harassing verbal or physical conduct that implicate an individual’s protected identity characteristics (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.) may be covered by the University’s Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment. To learn more, visit our FAQs on Discrimination and/or Harassment.