UT System Adopts Chicago Declaration on Free Speech



The University of Texas System Board of Regents has adopted a formal policy expressing its commitment to free speech on its campuses.

This week, the board of trustees unanimously approved adoption of the Chicago Statement, a statement of commitment to free speech written for the University of Chicago in 2014.

According to the statement, the council “guarantees all members of the UT system the widest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.” It reads: “debate or deliberation cannot be suppressed because the ideas advanced are considered by some or even most individual members of the UT System community to be offensive, reckless, immoral, or wrong.”

The UT system reserves the right to restrict speech that violates the law or poses a threat, among other examples.

“Why the Chicago declaration? As my friend (Purdue University President) Mitch Daniels said, when Purdue was one of the first institutions to adopt it, we didn’t see how we could improve the language, and I think we share that feeling,” the UT system chancellor said. James Milliken told the board.

The statement “reinforces the board’s already existing commitment to free speech on our campuses,” Milliken added, “but I believe this is an important statement from the board of trustees for the university system.”

“In many universities and systems, existing (free speech) policies are a kind of patchwork of policy decisions,” said Jeremy Young, senior director of free speech and education at PEN America, a non-profit organization that seeks to protect freedom of expression around the world. United States and around the world.

“The value of adopting the Chicago Declaration is to make a clear, declarative statement that establishes a set of principles” about how free speech works within the UT system, Young added. “It brings freedom of expression to the fore and makes it a pre-eminent goal and purpose of the institution, as it should be.”

Ninety-one other academic institutions across the country, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, have adopted the Chicago Declaration, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect people. free speech rights on college campuses.

In 2019, Texas
pass a law
requiring universities to allow anyone to speak freely on campus and creating disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere with the free speech of others.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Texas System financially supported the Texas Tribune. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune.

The Texas Grandstand
is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that educates Texans about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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