Different Perspectives in Our Campus Community
September 14, 2022
Many new ideas and competing perspectives are expressed, discussed, and debated every day at Idaho State University. Universities, like ours, do not teach students what to think. We teach students how to think.
While you are at Idaho State, you will likely hear topics discussed from many different viewpoints. Exposure to other ideas, perspectives, and beliefs is an important part of education. This long-standing practice of civic discourse helps to validate your own beliefs, embrace new ideas, or refute ideas you believe are wrong or harmful.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government from making laws that prohibit or hinder free speech. As a public university, Idaho State will never limit or restrict the legally-protected speech of students, faculty, staff, or others on our campuses. Our University stands firmly behind free speech as a foundational part of the educational mission of higher education. At the same time, we also strive to create an inclusive and caring campus community where all ideas can be openly discussed. Our commitments to both inclusion and free speech are not mutually exclusive. In fact, throughout our nation’s history, the right of free speech has been crucial to the advancement of justice and equality.
However, it is important to acknowledge that one person’s free speech may sometimes cause another to feel disrespected, excluded, or unwelcome. The First Amendment is broad and protects controversial and offensive speech, including some speech commonly referred to as "hate speech." The fundamental principle behind the First Amendment is that our University will never prohibit or punish speech just because it offends someone, even if a majority of people would find it shocking or outrageous.
If you disagree with something you hear, whether it is directed at yourself or at others, you are welcome to civilly respond and express your opinions and beliefs. We encourage you to be responsible with your speech. Supporting free speech rights does not mean agreeing with any particular idea or thought.
University groups or student organizations may invite a speaker to one of our campuses that you may find objectionable. The First Amendment allows community members to criticize the views of other community members and guest speakers, but it does not allow anyone to obstruct the expression of those views, disrupt classes, or impede on-campus events from happening. Direct threats, incitements of violence, and other serious disruptions to our University’s operations are generally not legally-protected speech and should be reported to the Dean of Students or Public Safety immediately.
Idaho State provides resources and support for those in our campus community who may be harmed by hateful or offensive speech. Anyone who may feel excluded by another's speech may seek support from the Dean of Students or the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Regardless of our many differences, we are all part of the Idaho State community. We encourage you to embrace and learn from others, engage in robust and civil debates, and treat one another with compassion and respect.