The following message was sent to the UT Knoxville campus on October 10, 2017.
Across our country, universities are facing a variety of complicated and sometimes challenging free speech issues. We know our campus will face its own tests.
As a public university, we’re a marketplace of ideas. We support and encourage debate. We believe that exposure to different viewpoints expands one’s perception of the world.
We want to make sure you are aware of the state’s Campus Free Speech Protection Act, which was signed into law in May.
We are required to notify the campus community of this act annually.
The state law says “it is not the proper role of an institution to attempt to shield individuals from free speech, including ideas and opinions they find offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed.”
Further, the law says that although members of the campus community are free to state their own views and contest what others are saying, “they may not substantially obstruct or otherwise substantially interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.”
We must protect the freedom of our campus community to vigorously discuss ideas. Just as we urge you to speak up, we urge you to allow others to speak.
Vice Chancellor for Student Life
Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor