Free Speech Policy

The University of Saint Francis supports every individual’s right to freedom of expression consistent with the appropriate forum in which the expression is made. The University of Saint Francis also recognizes the importance of fostering a “trustful, prayerful, community of learners” who “reverence the unique dignity of each person.”  As such, we intentionally foster a culture of engagement characterized by mutual respect that supports the Catholic intellectual tradition of faith and reason.

Within the classroom, visual and/or aural demonstrations, depictions or conduct that may sometimes be offensive to an individual will not be restricted when there is a legitimate and necessary pedagogical context, such as material having an appropriate connection to course subject matter. Similarly, campus discourse on topics of political, artistic or social issues that are conducted consistent with the nature of the forum and reasonable institutional limitations (registration to use space, time, place and manner regulations, etc.) that are clear and unambiguous will be supported. Such license, however, should never be in conflict with the Mission of the institution.

Expression that is severe, persistent, and objectively offensive, that is directed toward an individual or group based upon that individual’s or group’s protected status (e.g., sex/gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability or age) and has the effect that limits or denies educational or employment access, participation, benefits or opportunities is not a protected form of speech or expression, and may form the basis of a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, specifically under harassment, bullying or related discrimination policies. Other limitations on free speech include: endangering or threatening others; inciting violence; using “fighting words” directed at an individual or group that directly provokes violence; defamation; obscenity; and expression that has a discriminatory effect such that it limits or denies someone’s educational or employment access, participation, benefits and/or opportunities.