Support the UConn Free Speech Statement

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A UConn Statement on the Freedom of Speech and Expression


WHEREAS, freedom of speech and expression are fundamental human rights asserted by the Constitution of the United States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;


WHEREAS, “education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think,” “[u]niversities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgement, and questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom”;


WHEREAS, By-Law One, Section 5 of the Undergraduate Student Government’s By-Laws states that, “No member of the Undergraduate Student Government shall be punished, censured, censored, or stripped of their position for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech”; 


WHEREAS, the University of Chicago adopted a free speech policy statement named the Chicago Statement; 


WHEREAS, eighty-one major higher education institutions and their faculty boards across the country have adopted the Chicago Statement; 


WHEREAS, civil discourse is integral to a well functioning democratic republic such as the United States of America and democratic, representative, deliberative bodies such as the Undergraduate Student Government;


WHEREAS, there may be some benefit in considering John Stuart Mill’s observation, that “the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error”;


 

WHEREAS, we share the concern of Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, that “[j]ust as Americans during the red scare feared that allowing Marxists any type of platform would lead to revolution, chaos and despotism, overly zealous campus communities seem to dread that permitting controversial thought will undermine all sense of intellectual decency”;


WHEREAS, As a task force of UConn’s faculty senate stated, “[t]here have been worrisome examples in which free speech has been challenged or interfered with by university officials and non-university actors at several campuses nationwide, and have resulted in a negative impact on academic freedom”;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest the views of speakers who are invited to speak on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Undergraduate Student Government will adopt the Chicago Statement, effective immediately;


THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED, the adoption of the Chicago Statement will be known colloquially as the UConn Statement;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Undergraduate Student Government calls the University of Connecticut to adopt the Chicago Statement;


THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED, the Undergraduate Student Government calls for a meeting between the authors of this legislation and President Katsouleas, Provost Lejuez, and Dean of Students Daugherty, and other University officials to discuss the culture of freedom of expression on-campus, and adopting the Chicago Statement;


THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED, the Undergraduate Student Government affirms its commitment to the freedom of speech and expression.

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