DU's Unwavering Commitment to Freedom of Expression
Dear DU community members,
As many of you are aware, a protest march is being held tomorrow, Friday, September 25, by the student group Righteous Anger. Healing Resistance. (RAHR)
To that end, we’d like to share the below letter, which was published today in DU’s student-led newspaper, The Clarion, by Todd Adams, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Tom Romero, interim vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, in response to a student op-ed about the planned protest.
This letter emphatically reaffirms DU’s commitment to freedom of speech—a commitment this community has long held as foundational and unwavering.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
To the editor of the Clarion and all members of the DU community:
We are writing in response to the letter published yesterday regarding the upcoming protest organized by Righteous Anger. Healing Resistance (RAHR).
First and foremost, we want to assure our community that the University of Denver is firmly committed to freedom of expression—which includes participating in public demonstrations, such as the protest the student organizers of RAHR are thoughtfully planning for this Friday.
And, on behalf of the entire senior administration at DU, we also want to reaffirm that DU supports peaceful protest and will not take disciplinary action against students, faculty or staff simply for protesting or holding demonstrations. That is not the University’s policy or intention.
Any disciplinary action against demonstrators—students or otherwise—would only occur if the health and safety of the DU community was endangered. There is no reason to believe this will be the case for Friday’s planned protest.
We would be remiss not to acknowledge that the global health pandemic has made nearly all aspects of life more complicated and has disproportionately harmed already vulnerable populations. These complications include the ways and numbers in which we can gather. For the health and safety of all, DU community members must follow University COVID and event guidelines, as well as current public health protocols (such as wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing). We remain committed to working with students as they plan and organize, even under the challenges COVID presents, and will continue to support individuals and groups as they demonstrate and protest.
Our freedom to lend our voices to the conversation, to publicly share our opposition or support of policies, practices, ideas, or any other matter, is foundational to our individual liberties and shared humanity. The University of Denver must always provide an environment where voices are lifted, especially in dissent and by the oppressed. When we can truly see that an attack on one person’s freedom is an assault on us all, only then will we more fully realize the inclusive community we aspire to be.
If any member of the DU community has questions about protesting—and, importantly, how to hold demonstrations safely in the midst of COVID-19—please reach out to us and our colleagues at the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence – we are ready to support you and movements of change.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs
Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion