University adopts revised guiding principles for speech and expression

St. Vincent's Circle
(DePaul University/Josh Woo)
Based on the recommendations of a university task force, DePaul has adopted a new set of Guiding Principles for Speech and Expression, which will replace principles that have been in place since 2009, and will create a standing committee charged with leading education efforts on the Guiding Principles.

The revised principles, in part, "affirm a presumption in favor of permitting speech and expression as essential to the pursuit of knowledge in the University setting" and "affirm the right of individuals to express their viewpoints, even at the risk of controversy." The principles also note that "speech and expression that serves only to threaten or intimidate" does not further the goals of advancing and enlivening the intellectual life of the community.

The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., university president, endorsed and announced the Guiding Principles on May 26 in a message to all faculty, student and staff.

A 23-member Task Force of faculty, staff and students, representing diverse viewpoints and opinions, conducted vast research and met regularly to examine the existing Guiding Principles and determine how to move forward. The group began with DePaul's previous set of Guiding Principles, implemented in 2009. They then referenced similar statements at other universities and provided input on how to develop revised principles that would fit into DePaul's distinct culture given changing societal attitudes and norms on a variety of issues related to speech and expression.

"The reports I received of the Task Force's deliberations were that they were spirited, thoughtful and truly collegial, even in moments of difference," Holtschneider says. "The Task Force effectively balanced the ideals that we seek for all speech and expression at DePaul."

In addition to developing the revised Guiding Principles, the Task Force recommended the creation of the Speech and Expression Advisory Committee, or SEAC, to develop and implement a comprehensive, ongoing university-wide program to educate the DePaul community about the Guiding Principles. SEAC also will review the principles annually and, as requested, will provide consultation on integrating the principles into university activities, policies and procedures.

Holtschneider approved the committee, and its work will begin in the 2017-18 academic year. SEAC will report to the provost and will have 11 members: a chair from Academic Affairs, selected by the Provost; three representatives chosen by Faculty Council; three staff representatives chosen by Staff Council; three representatives chosen by Student Government Association; and one dean.

Members of the University Task Force on Speech and Expression were:

  • Laura Hartman, Chair
  • Jay Braatz, Senior Administration
  • Peggy Burke, Student Affairs (nonvoting)
  • Jeff Carrion, Staff Council
  • Stephanie Halaska, Staff Council
  • Lawrence Hamer, President's Diversity Council
  • Debbie Harris, Staff Council
  • Scott Kelley, Mission & Values
  • Maria Lozano-Corona, Student Government Association
  • Mark Moller, Faculty Council
  • Marla Morgen, Office of the General Counsel
  • Scott Paeth, Faculty Council
  • Jack Piazza, Student Government Association
  • Amira Proweller, Faculty Council
  • Francesca Royster, Faculty Council
  • Abdul-Malik Ryan, Student Affairs
  • Lynn Safranek, Office of Public Relations & Communications (nonvoting)
  • Megan Scoville, Student Government Association
  • Neda Shaheen, Student Government Association
  • Karen Tamburro, Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity
  • Rico Tyler, Student Affairs
  • Julie Widholm, DePaul Art Museum
  • Shajuan Young, Staff Council