Free Expression at CSUSM
Welcome to the new academic year at CSUSM. I wish you great success in your fall classes! I hope that you will get involved in campus life and enjoy the variety of enriching and exciting activities that our university has to offer.
Our campus, like any university campus, is considered a “marketplace of ideas.” This semester there will be many opportunities to engage in discovery and learn about thoughts and opinions that are new and different from your own. Together, let’s continue to cultivate the kind of learning environment where everyone is welcome to contribute and grow; where the values of inclusion, diversity of thought and freedom of speech can thrive.
At CSUSM, we value intellectual engagement, community, integrity, innovation and inclusiveness. In today’s increasing polarized culture we must recall our commitment, particularly as a public institution, to protect free speech and expression. This must apply even when we find such speech or expression offensive, or that it does not reflect our campus values. If we open the door to censorship of ideas we don’t agree with, we open the door to the potential censorship of ideas we do agree with.
At the same time, the right to free expression includes a responsibility to maintain civility, allow for and not silence differing opinions, and respect the dignity of individuals. While CSUSM will not limit protected speech, that protection will not impede anyone’s ability to speak out in disagreement or engage in peaceful, non-disruptive protest.
In the year ahead, we will continue to facilitate and promote forums that encourage dialogue and debate on a variety of issues. In addition, we have established policies and regulations aimed at protecting free speech while ensuring that individuals and groups exercising their legitimate rights do not infringe upon the rights of others or disrupt the education process or other operations of the University (links to these policies are provided below.)
The right to free expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment and is a freedom that is fundamental to our university and our society. I may not agree with every one of those opinions; I may find some offensive, but I will – and I hope you will as well – defend everyone’s right to speak freely.
Karen S. Haynes, Ph.D.
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