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Guidance for Staff Members on the University of Richmond Statement on Free Expression

In December 2020, the University of Richmond adopted a Statement on Free Expression. As President Crutcher has stated, “academic freedom and free expression are essential to delivering on our educational mission and fostering a vibrant intellectual community in which new knowledge emerges and ideas flourish.” The Statement on Free Expression is intended to serve as a set of guiding principles outlining the University’s commitment to free expression and open inquiry.

As members of our academic community, the Statement on Free Expression applies to staff, as well as to students and faculty. According to the Statement on Free Expression:

The ability to speak freely, debate vigorously, and engage deeply with differing viewpoints is essential to the University’s mission of advancing knowledge and preparing students to flourish in a complex world. Freedom of expression enables the University community—students, faculty, and staff— to express their deeply held convictions, opinions, ideas, and matters of conscience and engage in vigorous debate, criticism, and counter-speech.

Staff members are encouraged to review the Statement on Free Expression to learn more about the limits on expression that incites imminent lawless action, falsely defames a specific individual, or which targets a specific individual or individuals with threats or harassment, the ability of the University to set reasonable time, place and manner rules regarding expression, and the right to engage in non-disruptive protest.

While the University supports staff members engaging in free expression consistent with the principles set forth in the Statement on Free Expression, staff members should do so in their capacity as individual members of our community and should not speak on behalf of the University or their respective office or department, without prior approval. The work of our staff members is essential to providing an exceptional education for our students. Therefore, staff members also should ensure that they continue to fulfill their job responsibilities.

Read the full statement here