In the context of last year’s highly polarized political environment, I wrote about the importance of our campus community committing itself to the practice of open and civil discourse. Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is focusing on the theme of freedom of speech and civil discourse. I encourage you to participate in the associated events and utilize the Center’s many resources within your courses to catalyze discussion on this important topic.
Here, I wish to underscore the importance of protecting academic freedom as a sine qua non to our institutional mission of pursuing truth and deepening understanding. As reaffirmed by the Board of Trustees in 2010, “all faculty are entitled to the exercise of academic freedom” (Sect. 3.6.1 in SCU’s Faculty Handbook). Especially in these times of heightened tensions, it is imperative that faculty members have the freedom to explore difficult topics in their classes and challenge students to examine ideas critically. The University administration condemns any effort, from within or outside the University, to harass, intimidate or silence faculty members as they diligently carry out their responsibilities as educators and scholars.