Proposed Charge: Consider the scope and extent of, and limitations on, free speech in American society in relation to academic freedom at Rutgers. Recommend appropriate policies for free speech by members of the Rutgers community in their personal and official capacities.
Rationale: Recent changes in national policy regarding immigration and the deeper evolution of broad public policy divides nationally at our varied campuses have given us pause to review the University’s overall policy regarding free speech. It is unclear as to what are the dividing lines between what constitutes ‘hate speech’ versus active public expression protected under 1st Amendment rights. Recent events at universities and in communities all across the country are testing what is the right balance point. Some have taken the position that any views short of hate speech may be expressed, but that others may robustly contest them. This raises the question of whether expressions of abhorrence by officials of the university is itself an impermissible constraint on free speech. Clarity is also needed on what is the balancing point between the rights of students to share their rating of professors by their academic expression versus the concurrent rights of professors to maintain academic freedom in their instruction. We need at minimum a review of the policies of our peer institutions to see how they are grappling with this issue and to conduct sufficient research to make policy recommendations to the President. It might be advisable to include the School of Law in this research.
“Attached for University Senate review and comment are a draft of a revised University Policy on Centers and Institutes (University Policy 10.1.5) and the accompanying guidelines for the preparation of proposals for the creation of Centers and Institutes and for Periodic CI Progress Reports. These documents were developed with reference to the March 23, 2016 CI Report prepared by the Committee on Academic Planning and Review and shared with the Senate last spring. Please bring these documents to the attention of the Senate when they reconvene in the fall. Thank you.”