Welcome to the University of Arizona, a land grant institution that takes seriously our responsibility to provide inclusive and accessible education which nurtures the development of citizens prepared for robust engagement in civic life. The UA Dean of Students Office warmly embraces our role in implementing and managing campus policy related to expressive speech. We believe when students encounter divergent ideologies and engage with others with different experiences, identities, and convictions, the University is best able to fulfill its’ responsibility and mission.
This year’s symposium theme, “Welcoming Speech” highlights a central tension of freedom of speech at public universities and colleges. It seems self-evident that institutions of higher education strive for academic environments supportive of critical inquiry and thus welcome speech and expression as catalysts for the continual pursuit of knowledge and the public good. These same institutions look not only to the good of the collective, but also to the well-being of their communities and the individuals who form those communities. Therefore institutions also have an interest in supporting and encouraging speech which is welcoming and reflects a commitment to values of civility, respect, and democratic engagement.
We stand at a crucial moment in our country’s history and in the trajectory of American higher education. Ensuring free expression and academic inquiry in our campus communities provides students with abundant opportunities to develop their individual intellectual identity and their democratic disposition. I hope this symposium can serve as a venue for exploration, examination, and encouragement for educators and administrators, campus leaders, student affairs professionals, attorneys, and engaged citizens. There is much good work to be done!