By 1812Blockhouse; Ohio State News

The Ohio State University Board of Trustees Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee voted Wednesday to adopt a new campus free speech policy.

In doing so, the university’s full board aligned with state law concerning campus free speech. The law requires universities in Ohio to adopt a policy affirming several principles of campus free speech and a process under which a student, student group or faculty member may submit a complaint about an alleged violation of the policy.

The Board also adopted a resolution reaffirming the foundational values of intellectual diversity. In a unified statement of opposition to Senate Bill 83, the trustees shared their commitment to free speech, open dialogue and the importance of diverse views. They pointed out the university is already taking steps to emphasize that all viewpoints are welcome and respected on Ohio State campuses.

“I think that it has undergone a thorough review from us, from the faculty, from the administration, and I think we are all feeling pretty good about the fact that it does underscore our commitment to free expression and free speech,” said trustee Jeff Kaplan.

Ohio State trustees initially passed an interim free speech policy and process at their August 2022 meeting.

Following the 2022 approval, the university reviewed the interim policy through the established university policy process, including by soliciting feedback from students, faculty and staff to ensure that the policy emphasizes the value of free speech and promotes its application through established university rules, procedures and practices.

Some of the key principles of the policy include:

  • Students have a fundamental constitutional right to free speech.
  • Ohio State is committed to giving students broad latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn and discuss any issue subject to lawful restrictions that are permitted under the First Amendment.
  • The proper role of the university is not to attempt to shield individuals from free speech, including ideas and opinions they find offensive.
  • The university greatly values civility and mutual respect. Nevertheless, concerns about civility and mutual respect may never be used as a justification for closing off the discussion of ideas.
  • All students and faculty are free to state their own views about and contest the views expressed on campus.
  • The primary responsibility of faculty is to engage in an honest, courageous and persistent effort to search out and communicate the truth that lies in the areas of their competence.

The policy aligns with the university’s Shared Values, which include a commitment to diversity and innovation. Ohio State promotes a culture of welcoming differences, making connections among people and ideas, and encouraging open-minded exploration, risk-taking and freedom of expression.

As a land-grant institution, the university takes seriously its role in promoting and supporting public discourse. The university is steadfastly committed to protecting the First Amendment right to free speech and academic freedom on its campus, and to upholding the university’s academic motto –  “Education for Citizenship.”

Students, student groups and faculty members of Ohio State may submit a complaint about an alleged violation by a university employee of the campus free speech policy.

Complaints about alleged violations of this policy by university employees must be made to the Office of University Compliance and Integrity at [email protected] or through the university’s anonymous reporting line at 866-294-9350 or ohio-state.ethicspoint.com.

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