“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 members of our community and believes that free speech is essential to university life.
Our Statement on Freedom of Expression explains Princeton’s commitment to free speech and protections for campus community members engaging in academic inquiry, peaceful protest, ordinary conversation, and online discussion. See also the University's Policy on the Classroom Learning Environment at section V.I in the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty.
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.
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 FAQ.
The following materials were compiled to accompany President Eisgruber’s 2018 Pre-Read book selection, “Speak Freely,” and serve as a resource to all members of the University community illuminate the tensions that exist within the field of free speech.