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Free Expression

Read the Recommended Statement on Free Expression.


Task Force Charge, Members and Process

In May 2019, President Crutcher convened a Task Force on Free Expression, charged with reviewing history and policies related to freedom of expression and academic freedom at the University of Richmond and drafting a statement to guide our shared institutional understanding of these concepts.

Membership

  • Task Force Chair: Kurt Lash, E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Chair in Law, School of Law
  • Doug Bosse, Professor of Management, Robins School of Business
  • Jennifer Cable, Professor of Music, School of Arts and Sciences
  • Jessica Flanigan, Professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law; Jepson School of Leadership Studies
  • Tom Mullen, Director of Public Affairs Journalism in the School of Arts and Sciences
  • Shannon Sinclair, Vice President and General Counsel, ex officio
  • Kevin Woodson, Professor of Law, School of Law
  • Ashleigh Brock, Assistant to the President, ex officio, Staff to the Task Force

Task Force Process 

For seven months, the Task Force met on a regular basis to complete four phases of work, each of which is described briefly here: investigation, decision, drafting, and feedback. 

Investigation Phase

This phase focused on deepening the Task Force's knowledge of free speech and expression on college and university campuses, and the specific context of free expression at the University of Richmond. This phase included reviewing a number of recently published books and essays on free expression (Link to resources page), statements drafted by other higher education institutions, recent public commentary on campus about free speech issues by faculty and students, and existing University history and policies relevant to free expression and academic freedom. 

Decision Phase

In charging the Task Force, President Crutcher left its members free to conclude its investigation phase with a decision not to draft a statement on free expression or with a decision to develop a statement. Following investigation and deliberation, the Task Force unanimously voted in favor of drafting a Statement on Free Expression and submitting it to the President by December 1, 2019.

Drafting Phase

A review of more than 10 college and university free expression statements indicated that each addressed five distinct subjects: (1) the institution’s mission, (2) the rights of free expression, (3) the limits of free expression, (4) the rights of peaceful protest and non-disruptive counter-speech, and (5) the expressive rights of the institution itself. The Task Force chose to structure its draft in five paragraphs, addressing each of these subjects. After several weeks of work and discussion, the Task Force completed and voted to adopt a working draft Statement on Free Expression.

Feedback Phase

The Task Force invited members of the University community to provide feedback on the working draft Statement, including representatives selected by the: Faculty Senate, University Staff Advisory Council, Westhampton College Government Association, and Richmond College Student Government Association. The Task Force also heard from law student members of the Federalist Society and American Constitution Society. Feedback informed refinements to the working draft Statement. 

Following completion of the four phases, the Task Force finalized the language of the draft Statement and voted to submit the draft to the President and Provost.