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Our commitment to Principles of Community and peaceful protest

"A university environment is a place in which we should be able to safely discuss and debate the most difficult issues of our time without fear of repercussions," leaders write.

By Public Affairs

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ben Hermalin sent the below message on Monday, March 4.

We write to share our commitment to the First Amendment and the principles of free expression. We want to make it clear that we support the right of students and Registered Student Organizations (RSO) to freely express their viewpoints in a safe and peaceful manner that is compliant with our Time, Place, and Manner policies. We acknowledge that campus departments and RSOs have the right to host events and speakers regardless of content. We will do what we can to fiercely protect this right. We also want to clarify that protesting an event due to its political nature does not make the protest activity inherently antisemitic or Islamophobic. People should also keep in mind that the actions of a few within a movement or protest do not represent the perspectives or values of an entire community. Civil disobedience can coexist within an event even when some or a minority go too far. It is important to acknowledge that there is considerable diversity in political thought and viewpoints within communities. With our Principles of Community in mind, we must refrain from stereotyping, vilifying, or judging an entire community based on the actions of a few. 

We also want to acknowledge that these are very difficult times for many members of our community. We mourn the loss of lives including over 1,200 killed on October 7 in Israel and over 30,000 lives in Gaza since that date. Many of you have personal connections to this region of the world, and some of our community members are actively grieving the loss of close family members and friends. We know that many of you are in deep pain about the conflict in this region. 

We know that some members of our campus community do not feel safe or empowered to make reports of incidents to the University. If you would like to discuss your options in a confidential space, please visit the Ombuds Office for Students & Postdoctoral Appointees, Employee Assistance, or Student Legal Services for consultation. 

A University environment is a place in which we should be able to safely discuss and debate the most difficult issues of our time without fear of repercussions. Even when we disagree, we can do so with mutual respect and civility, which includes the right to peaceful protest. We encourage listening, seeking to understand, and treating one another with dignity and grace. Words have meaning and signal our values. We acknowledge that our messages have a differential impact on our diverse communities. Now more than ever, we need to reject the push to further polarize or silence the voices that challenge us.