Free Speech

Free Speech

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is committed to respecting and protecting the constitutional right of free speech.  It recognizes the centrality to its academic mission of an environment that protects the open exchange of ideas and the freedom of individual expression.

The following policy statements articulate this commitment:

University of Virginia

“The University of Virginia is a community in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression are respected and sustained. The University is committed to supporting the exercise of constitutionally protected expression in University-controlled facilities and property while maintaining a safe atmosphere free from disruption.

The University has established requirements for use of its facilities and property in order to focus on its mission, provide a safe environment, and preserve the aesthetics of the Grounds.

The use of University facilities and property must

*            not impede student education, academic activities, research, patient care, scheduled events, University functions, residences, or the faculty/staff work environment

*            be safe for participants and not generate security issues

*            and preserve the integrity and aesthetics of the University’s property.”

College Catalog & Student Handbook

“The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a community of scholars in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of the individual are sustained. The College is committed to preserving the rights guaranteed to individuals by the Constitution. However, the exercise and preservation of these freedoms and rights require a respect for the rights of all in the academic community to enjoy them to the same extent. It is clear that in a community of learning, willful disruption of the educational process, destruction of property, and interference with the orderly process of the College or with the rights of other members of the College cannot be condoned. Students enrolling in the College assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the College’s function as an educational institution. To fulfill its functions of imparting and gaining knowledge, the College retains the authority to maintain order within the College and to exclude those who are disruptive of the educational process.”

Faculty Handbook

4.8.1 Academic Freedom: The College endorses fully the statement on Academic Freedom in the 1940 Statement of Principles of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the following specifically: (a) Teachers are entitled to freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be in compliance with College policy. (b) Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject or which would violate College policy. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment. (c) College or university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution. Faculty members must avoid expressing their personal views on College letterhead. (d) Any events or issues involving academic freedom shall be addressed by the Faculty Relations Committee, which is the principal organization of the College charged with protecting academic freedom. Please see Appendix A: Faculty Relations Committee for further information.”

The following resolution affirming the importance of the freedom of speech was passed by the UVa-Wise Faculty Senate on November 4, 2015:

Whereas, the Founder of our University, Thomas Jefferson, made the classic statement on Academic Freedom when he wrote: “here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error, so long as reason is left to combat it”;

and whereas, the free, open, and tolerant expression of all ideas, thoughts, feelings, and opinions is essential to learning, progress, democracy and knowledge;

and whereas, the proper answer to unpopular, controversial or offensive speech is not censorship and prosecution but the refutation of bad ideas by good ideas;

and whereas, such an open, free  university atmosphere allows the greatest possible latitude to speak, write, inquire, listen, challenge and learn, develops the mind and intellect;

and whereas, such free discussion and debate of all sides of every issue or topic is continually threatened by political ideologies of all types, religious bigotry, and social and economic pressures;

and whereas, the university is the one institution where such open, diverse, free, and lively discussion may occur, enhancing all other organizations in society;

Therefore, We, The Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, RESOLVE, That Academic Freedom should be promoted, protected, advanced, and cherished by all levels of the university and college community.