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Gettysburg College Adopts New ‘Freedom of Expression’ Policy to Protect Speech

Gettysburg College Adopts New ‘Freedom of Expression’ Policy to Protect Speech

“FIRE applauds this comprehensive approach”

The new policy is being likened to the University of Chicago’s commitment to free speech.

The FIRE blog reports:

Gettysburg College adopts unique ‘Freedom of Expression Philosophy’ with input from various campus stakeholders

Concluding a year-long process of deliberating and drafting last month, Gettysburg College’s Board of Trustees approved a comprehensive statement of principles on free expression, the “Freedom of Expression Philosophy.” Echoing the values of the “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” at the University of Chicago (the “Chicago Statement”), the Philosophy will serve as a framework for how the Gettysburg administration will approach free speech issues on campus.

Various stakeholders on campus contributed to the formation of this Philosophy. It all began with a campus-wide email from President Janet Riggs last May committing the college to renewing and defining its institutional values following a visit from a controversial speaker. To implement this promise, the president convened a panel in the fall of 2017 composed of faculty members and students to draft a statement that reflected Gettysburg’s ongoing commitment to free expression. Next, both the student senate and the faculty senate approved the Philosophy in the spring of 2018. The last step of the ratification process came last month, when the Board of Trustees approved the Philosophy at its May meeting.

FIRE applauds this comprehensive approach to adopting an institutional statement on free expression. The Philosophy will not only guide the Gettysburg community in handling future free speech issues, but also broadly envisions a campus culture in which ideas — popular or not — are expressed, discussed, and debated. “We expect that diverse views and opinions will create conflict and disagreement among us at times,” the Philosophy acknowledges, “but the genuine sharing of ideas, perspectives, and values presupposes both freedom and responsibility.”


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