Civil Discourse and Free Speech at the University of Nebraska

Civil Discourse

Civil Discourse

An Overview of Civil Discourse

Academic freedom and freedom of speech is at the heart of our mission—and vital to nurture the critical thinking needed to succeed in an increasingly diverse and competitive global environment. Both in and out of the classroom, at campuses across our state, we all should be challenged by and exposed to ideas, beliefs, and experiences that are unfamiliar or that conflict with our own.

At the same time, we must nurture a constructive environment in which all of us feel safe to share our point of view. The First Amendment provides no guarantee of civility. However, as a community of educators and learners, the University places a high value on civil discourse and has an obligation to protect the dignity and respect of all members of its community from those who seek to use speech to deprive others of their freedom to learn, their freedom to contribute and their freedom to participate fully in the University’s mission.

Of course, this may be easier said than done. We are certainly not the only university that is grappling with these challenges. But we are committed to work together to make the University of Nebraska an even more inclusive, compassionate, thoughtful, and intellectually challenging environment for our students and for our faculty.

Board of Regents Policy: Commitment to Free Expression; Related Guide to Facilities Use; and Education

This new policy clarifies and underscores the university’s long-standing commitment to freedom of expression. It also makes clear the University places a high value on civil discourse and that no one should prevent, impede, or obstruct the freedom of others to exercise their rights to express themselves. The policy also requires all campuses to develop and publicize clear time, place and manner requirements for their facilities.

University-Wide Campus Climate Survey

Like many institutions of higher education across the country, NU is wrestling with questions relating to freedom of speech and how to encourage a challenging, yet respectful civil discourse, regardless of background or political perspective. We’ve engaged Gallup to assess how we are doing. The survey is currently being developed and results will be available upon its completion. Each campus has committed to making the NU system an inclusive environment for all.