April 1, 2023
Protecting freedom of expression at VCU
As our nation’s Constitution protects the free speech of all, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with what is being said, it is essential that everyone treat everyone else with respect and civility.
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Dear VCU community:
This message is being shared to clarify what occurred earlier this week when protesters disrupted an on-campus student-organized event. As our nation’s Constitution protects the free speech of all, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with what is being said, it is essential that everyone treat everyone else with respect and civility.
The student organization "Students for Life at VCU" invited a speaker to its meeting in the Student Commons on March 29, which was open to the public and attracted about 70 people. The meeting was disrupted by protesters, and VCU Police were called at about 5:40 p.m.
VCU Police charged two protesters. One protester was charged with simple assault and the other with disorderly conduct. Neither individual was a VCU student nor had any connection to the university.
The overwhelming majority of events at VCU take place without incident, and we are very disappointed that a student organization's meeting was disrupted. Speakers or groups who are invited guests on our campus deserve the right to complete their remarks in a respectful and civil environment.
VCU is committed to promoting a safe environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors so that the rights of everyone to gather and speak freely in a civil manner are protected.
It is important to know that VCU supports words with action: violations of the student and employee codes of conduct regarding disruptions to free speech can lead to disciplinary actions.
We must extend dignity and respect to others, including those with whom we disagree. VCU must remain committed to free speech and civil discourse, values that strengthen our academic mission and our dedication to the success and well-being of our students, patients, faculty, staff and community.
President, VCU and VCU Health
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