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Free Speech Forum

Monday October 31, 2016, 3:30-5:00pm
Stokely Management Center, Room G2

The UT Faculty Senate and the UTK Chapter of the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) will host an open forum on “Free Speech and Diversity,” Monday October 31,

Pic of Free Speech & Diversity flyer. Image of students lying on Pedestrian Walkway during die-in protest. Text: Principles of free speech, academic freedom and free, open inquiry are of historical value to the human search for truth as well as the mission of the university. However, free speech can conflict with our efforts to foster a safe campus, one that is “welcoming to all and hostile to none.” Questions regarding the intersection of speech and diversity offer opportunities for the university to be engaged in both an internal and a broader civic dialogue about these issues in relation to our larger purpose, to “educate, discover and connect.” Current campus poli-cies in Hilltopics, The UTK Faculty Handbook, and UTK’s Civility and Community Principles will serve to frame the discussions. Presenters will include faculty, a student and a guest speaker.

For a PDF copy of this flyer, click here.

3:30-5pm in Stokely Management Center, Room G2. The forum will include faculty, student and community panelists, and will examine ways that we protect free speech rights while also creating a campus that is “welcoming to all and hostile to none.” Current campus policies in Hilltopics, The UTK Faculty Handbook and UTK’s Civility and Community Principles will serve to frame the discussions.

Planned Speakers:

Teri Baxter, Professor of Law, UT Knoxville
Often teaches difficult, controversial content in academic courses.

Susan Mclean Benner, Associate Dean & Director of the Graduate School of Education, UT Knoxville
Expertise on diversity and educational theory and policy.

Tom Castelli, Legal Director, ACLU – Nashville Office
Expertise on campus speech in relation to basic civil liberties.

Glenn Reynolds, Professor of Law, UT Knoxville
Expertise on the intersection of free speech and academic freedom.

Colleen Ryan, Student Coordinator for SEAT (Sex Week)
Experience with student initiated programming as a form of free speech. 

Britton Sharp, Collegiate Abbey, UT Knoxville
Addressing the issue of free speech and religious expression.

For more information, contact Beauvais Lyons (

Campus Documents

Hilltopics: Campus Policies and Procedures

  • Anti-Hazing
  • Freedom of Assembly and Demonstration
  • Incidents of Bias
  • Literature Distribution
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Use of University Property & Use for Free Expression Activities

Student Code of Conduct

UTK Faculty Handbook

10 Principles of Civility and Community  

Selected On-line Resources and Articles:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

New York Times article about FIRE, August 1, 2016

Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression, University of Chicago

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Education article about University of Chicago Letter

Eric Heinz, “19 Arguments for Hate Speech Bans – and Against Them”

AAUP Statement of Trigger Warnings, August 2014

Erika Price, “I Use Trigger Warnings in My Classes – Here’s Why”

“And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion and Freedom” PEN America Report, October 17, 2016

Morton Shapiro, “I’m Northwestern President: Here’s Why Safe Spaces for Students are Important”

Cameron Okeke, “I’m a black UChicago graduate. Safe spaces got me through college.”

Emmitt Rensin, “The smug style in American liberalism.”

Sophie Downs, “Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and Free Speech, Too”


Nathan Heller, The Big Uneasy, What’s roiling the liberal-arts Campus?”

On the Media, September 2, 2016 has three stories on this subject: