CSU officials announce new First Amendment website

Natalia Sperry

Colorado State University Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda and Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes announced a new website aimed at addressing the issues of the First Amendment and free speech in higher education in an email to all CSU students sent Jan. 23.

Miranda related these common issues of free speech to the recent controversy surrounding several guest speakers scheduled to visit campus, such as Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, who is expected to speak Feb. 2 at an event titled “Smashing Socialism.” 

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“Such guest speakers and student-sponsored events are a longstanding part of our campus culture, and all of these speakers have a track record of recent professional appearances on other college campuses without disruption to campus life,” Miranda wrote.

According to Miranda, the website is intended to address First Amendment controversies relating to speakers and groups, including those on the Lory Student Center Plaza, who may try to incite or provoke a reaction from crowds or individuals to serve their own promotional purposes.

“While protecting the constitutional right of people to speak, CSU also firmly upholds the rights of our campus community to present counter-arguments and speak back through peaceful protest and other peaceful means,” Miranda wrote.

Miranda wrote that CSU is both committed to and required by the First Amendment to an open exchange of ideas and dissenting points of view as a public university.

“At times, such expression may be deemed offensive and even run counter to our Principles of Community or other institutional values,” Miranda wrote. “It is important to remember that embracing free speech is a core value, and our Principles of Community declare that the university is ‘committed to freedom of expression, critical discourse, and the advancement of knowledge.’”

It is important to remember that embracing free speech is a core value, and our Principles of Community declare that the university is ‘committed to freedom of expression, critical discourse, and the advancement of knowledge.” Rick Miranda, CSU Provost and Executive Vice President

Miranda also outlined options for CSU faculty, staff and students who disagree with a speaker’s message, such as avoiding the event to minimize attention for the speaker and their agenda, participating in peaceful protest and scheduling alternative events or speakers.

Miranda reminded the community that disrupting a speaker or an event is not protected by the First Amendment, as the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly are afforded and protected by the University. Miranda encouraged the community to review the University’s Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly policy.

CSU will continue its First Amendment Conversation Series for faculty and staff, which began in December, in order to provide deeper context and information around these policies and laws, and a similar opportunity for learning and discussion for CSU students will also be upcoming later this spring, according to Miranda.

“This website is designed, above all, to assist each of us in doing what a University does best: learning and educating,” Miranda wrote. “The hope is that this creates opportunity for engagement and conversation with students and colleagues about the challenges and responsibilities of exercising and protecting First Amendment rights that are fundamental to all we do in higher education.”

Collegian reporter Natalia Sperry can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Natalia_Sperry.

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