Dear Students and Colleagues,
In a special session held today, the University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to adopt a new set of principles to reaffirm the institution’s commitment to free speech. The “University of Michigan Principles on Diversity of Thought and Freedom of Expression” are a clear reminder, both to those in our community and to those who look to U-M as a leader in higher education, that we “enthusiastically embrace our responsibility to stimulate and support diverse ideas and model constructive engagement with different viewpoints.” Doing so is essential to discovery, creativity and learning.
I encourage you to spend some time today reading this document and considering how we can all live out these ideals.
As with our campus vision, these principles are not intended to be prescriptive, but rather to guide us as we educate, create and advance knowledge, promote open inquiry and spirited debate, and prepare the next generation to be informed and actively engaged in our democracy. At this time of great division, it is more important than ever that we come together in a shared commitment to pluralism, to mutual respect and to freedom of speech and diversity of thought at this great university.
Developed by a faculty committee of experts led by Timothy G. Lynch, the university’s vice president and general counsel, the principles were first made public in October and have since been honed and improved through a period of thoughtful feedback and robust engagement with our community.
In the coming weeks, we will assemble a panel to recommend ways to put the principles into practice across our three campuses and educate our ever-changing community about what they mean. Later, a second committee made up of faculty members, students and staff will examine the extent to which the university community is living up to the principles. This group also will make specific recommendations on what the university can and should do better. The goal is to make any adjustments before the start of the academic year this fall.
Our new principles mark an exciting new chapter in the University of Michigan’s long story of activism, free expression and creativity. They confirm our deepest held beliefs, and I’m excited to continue the work of living them out every day.
Santa J. Ono