LTTE: Free speech letter 2015

Guest Author

Free Speech Letter 2015

by Dean of Students Jody Donovan and ASCSU President Jason Sydoriak

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Dear Colorado State University Community:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”*

* First Amendment, United States Constitution

We often see speech and assembly activities on the Lory Student Center Plaza. With the continuous exchange of ideas, we will sometimes experience issues and language that we both agree and disagree with.

Freedom of speech is a treasured right and critical component of learning at Colorado State University. Only an open and respectful environment for speech will support a complete experience while studying, living, working or visiting our energetic campus. CSU strives to balance the opportunities and requirements of free speech with issues of civility, respect and privacy. The right to agree or disagree, along with expressing these views, are the bedrock of our rights under the First Amendment.

This balance supports a welcoming environment for expression of a diverse range of personal experiences and beliefs.

Public universities like CSU are a marketplace of ideas open to a broad spectrum of free speech activities, both popular and unpopular. As a uniquely diverse population of individuals with strong personal beliefs, passionate and contradictory views often collide. This diversity of thought is to be celebrated, and the opportunity to learn, to question and to think both conventionally and unconventionally in a safe and respectful environment is part of the higher education experience. Our community has a wide range of beliefs related to politics, civil rights, religion, economics, the environment and many other issues of prominence locally, nationally and globally. CSU is committed to providing an open and respectful living and learning environment for such issues to be discussed and debated.

While the First Amendment allows us to exercise our freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble, it does not generally protect advocacy or incitement of illegal action, fighting words, threats of violence, unrestricted commercial speech and obscenity.  We must be free to exercise our rights, but not at the expense of our peers and fellow community members. While speech must not be popular, and some may disagree with the views expressed, it must occur within lawfully protected boundaries.

If you are to ever experience speech or topics that you do not agree with or find troublesome, know that you have both support and resources. The CSU Counseling Center is a great resource to assist you in processing your thoughts and feelings. Additionally, you have the right to counter-protest any issue. It is imperative that all refrain from violence or other unprotected activities when responding. Remember, the profound right of freedom of speech and assembly comes with a great responsibility to represent ourselves in the best way possible while earning a world-class education.

For more information, please see the CSU Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly Policy.

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