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CMU adopts the Chicago Statement

Policy provides protections for speech and expression

Colorado Mesa University is an elite institution when it comes to the rights of speech and expression. There are fewer than one hundred institutions of higher education in the nation who have adopted the Chicago Statement otherwise known as the Report of the Committee of Freedom of Expression. In September 2020 the CMU Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the policy protecting the speech and expression rights of students and CMU faculty now and in the future.

"The CMU Board of Trustees took action last month to adopt what is likely the gold standard for freedom of expression in our country," said President Tim Foster. "By adopting the Chicago Statement, CMU reinforces that freedom of expression is an essential core value of the university." 

The resolution adopted by CMU states that higher education cannot "become incubators of comfort" at the expense of taking on and exploring the complex, provocative and essential ideas in society and culture.

CMU student Angel Bautista was recently elected student body president and believes the new policy is a foundation that supports students.

"The Chicago Statement is a standard that ensures students may express themselves at CMU," said Bautista. "We want students to be able to voice their opinions in a healthy community that encourages conversations of substance. I am ecstatic the Board of Trustees adopted these principles."

Implementing the policy will be a process that unfolds over years and decades providing faculty, staff, students and organizations guiding principles that can inform decision making and creation of campus guidance and conduct.

CMU Vice President for Academic Affairs Kurt Haas also believes that free expression is an essential part of academic inquiry and is necessary for teaching.

"Protection of the right to free speech is one of a number of competing values in society," said Haas. "By adopting the Chicago Statement, CMU is sending a clear message that open discourse within a university, on difficult subjects, should be encouraged rather than controlled."

In 2018 CMU launched the Civic Forum initiative that resulted in a number of speakers, lecturers and debates on campus. In the future, President Foster believes the implications of the new speech and expression policy can be explored not only through the classroom but also through the forum.

"Being one of the few campuses in the nation that has adopted such clear and unambiguous policy will help us attract people to campus who have important messages, and who are interested in participating in difficult conversations about the future of our culture and campus," he said.

CMU students, faculty and staff are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the principles.


Written by David Ludlam