Statement on free speech: putting our principles into practice

Monday, February 26, 2018

To the University community,

At the University of Minnesota we are committed to providing an environment where opposing points of view, critical thinking, and disagreements can occur in a productive and respectful manner. As is happening at universities across the country, we have to grapple with and find ways to manage differences of opinion.  

We are dedicated to promoting free speech while also fostering a campus climate that supports equity, diversity, and inclusion. This includes a diversity of thought and the ability to learn how to disagree with one another with civility.

Our principles say that we strive to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity and cooperation. We give life to those principles in an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.

As a community, we have an opportunity to put these principles into practice today when Ben Shapiro comes to speak on our Twin Cities campus. He was invited to speak by students who are part of a registered student group. As is our policy, I support their right to invite a speaker of their choice. 

While some disagree with Mr. Shapiro’s message, I know that together we can manage this tension of difference, and we can do it in a way that affirms our values while demonstrating empathy for all in our community.