Notice of New Board of Regents Policy Document 4-21 (Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression)

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Notice of New Board of Regents Policy Document 4-21 (Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression)

Dear Colleagues,

In the fall of 2017, the UW System Board of Regents adopted a policy titled “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression” (RPD 4-21) which reinforced the Board’s commitment to academic freedom, freedom of expression and expectations for those who violate the policy.

This policy sets forth certain rights, protections and responsibilities of our campus community in regard to academic freedom and freedom of expression. A few notable rights, protections and requirements, among others:
• Members of the campus community have the right to engage in speech and expression on campus and to assemble and engage in spontaneous expressive activity as long as such speech, expression or activity does not disrupt the functions of the university.
• Members of the campus community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus as long as their actions do not materially and substantially disrupt the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity, such as heckling an invited speaker to the point that the speaker’s message cannot be conveyed. This type of behavior may result in disciplinary action or sanctions.
• The First Amendment does not protect speech or expression that violates the law, falsely defames a specific individual, constitutes a genuine threat or discriminatory harassment, unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the university.

The full policy can be found at:

As an institution of higher learning, I encourage all of us to do our part to engage in discussions, debates and conversations with others in a way that promotes the growth, learning and understanding of others whose ideas, opinions and beliefs may be different from our own.

Thank you.
Paige Smith
Chief of Institutional Policy and Compliance


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