Response to concerns about student protests that occurred Wednesday, April 6, 2016
During recent student protests held on our campus, a senior university official said students would be subject to automatic expulsion. This was inaccurate; automatic expulsion is not, and will not be our policy.
As a university, we celebrate and work each day to defend the unassailable rights and fundamental freedoms that serve as the foundation of our society. We provide rich and varied platforms that allow members of our community to share and promote their views. Protected speech is, by definition, never grounds for discipline.
In order to allow students to make informed decisions as they exercised this right, university officials apprised them of actions that could occur in response to behavior that violated student codes of conduct and universally applied building policies. Our institution has a responsibility to enforce those codes and policies in a reliable and consistent fashion.
We emphasize the importance of treating fellow students, faculty, staff and visitors with sensitivity and respect in all situations. We had repeatedly instructed everyone involved to proceed in ways that would uphold those high standards, and any words that fell short, or could be interpreted as falling short, were inconsistent with our goals and proven practices. In light of last week’s events, we are redoubling our efforts to make sure our high standards are always met, including working with individuals trained in mediation when appropriate.
Finally, I look forward to continued constructive engagement as we strive to address issues important to us all.
Michael V. Drake