May 12, 2017 – Free Speech and University Values

Free Speech and University Values

To: Campus Community

From: President Gayle E. Hutchinson

Dear Colleagues,

Our work as a regional comprehensive University is always grounded in current events, global, national, and local. An opinion column published in The Orion this week has drawn attention and spurred conversation on and off campus, raising questions of free speech and University values.

At Chico State, our core mission is to guide our students in learning and provide support for their success. In 2005, the University president signed a declaration of support for The Orion ensuring the paper remains free from censorship or editorial constraint by University administration, and I stand by that agreement supporting free speech and a free press. Along with these rights, The Orion has a responsibility and a duty to report fairly and accurately.

We respect the opinion writer’s right to free speech. However, the views expressed in the article in question do not reflect the values of our University. We are an intellectual community characterized by reason, respect, civility, diversity, and openness of expression.

We understand the importance of meaningful dialogues and courageous conversations that help students, faculty, and staff wrestle with issues and resolve challenges, and do so in ways that are respectful, build understanding, and honor academic freedom. As sensitive discussions take place, I urge you to engage in them constructively and with respect, both in person and on social media. The “Our Democracy” website created this spring gives helpful tips on engaging in difficult dialogue.

We are defined by our values and our interactions, and the Chico Experience is built upon our caring and concern for one another. Together, we can build diverse and inclusive communities of excellence.

Sincerely,

Gayle E. Hutchinson, President