Freedom of Speech, Diversity, and Inclusion


Recent events—both nationwide and on college campuses—have too often pitted values of diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression against each other, when in fact they should be mutually reinforcing. While the majority of college students support the principles of the First Amendment, many are willing to entertain restrictions when they see conflicts with other values and beliefs. Caught in the crosshairs are university leaders who want to do right by their communities and support all voices being heard, but without letting deep divisions affect the student experience or compromise the learning environment

This blog series aims to unpack the tensions between campus inclusion and freedom of expression through president and student survey data and commentary from higher education leaders, higher education administrators, First Amendment experts, and scholars who study these issues.

The Practices of Freedom: Freedom of Speech, Academic Freedom, and Shared Governance
In the wake of President Trump’s recent executive order on campus free speech, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia gives a timely review of higher education’s commitment to the First Amendment and the mutually inclusive nature of free expression and inclusion.

Defining and Practicing Deep Civility on College Campuses
Dialogue around the future of open expression on higher education campuses requires us to think beyond surface expressions of civility. The University of Missouri’s Ashley Woodson looks at the idea of deep civility, which demands radically empathetic regard for others in shared spaces.

Crisis Planning: How to Prepare for Free Speech Conflicts on Campus
Traevena Byrd, vice president and general counsel at American University (DC), discusses the legal obligations college and university leaders need to consider when controversial speakers come to campus—and the importance of working with your office of legal counsel.

Practicing Vigorous Civility
We are facing a crisis of speech in the United States, a turmoil over how to speak to each other across lines of difference. And nowhere is this strain more sharply felt than at colleges and universities, writes Frederick Lawrence.

The Paradox of Free Speech in America Today
Sanford J. Ungar, president emeritus of Goucher College, former host of All Things Considered on NPR, and director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University describes the difficulty Americans and higher education institutions face today in figuring out what free speech means and how to implement it with reasonable, common-sense standards.

Free Speech and Campus Inclusion: A Survey of College Presidents
ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy fielded its second national Pulse Point survey of college and university presidents in February to better understand their viewpoints on and experiences with free speech and campus inclusion.

For College Students and Presidents Alike, Free Speech Is a Balancing Act
In February of this year, ACE fielded a national survey of college and university presidents to better understand their thoughts and experiences with the pressing issues of free speech and campus inclusion. Comparing our findings with Knight and Gallup’s 2017 survey of college students on the First Amendment, it may be that campus leaders and their students are more aligned on these issues than we believe or the media often depicts.

Free Expression on Campus: Presidents Respond to 2018 Knight-Gallup Survey of College Students
The Knight Foundation has released an updated version of its survey on how college students see the First Amendment—and what they think about the relationship between inclusion and free expression. Seven college presidents and chancellors respond to the results.