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Academic Freedom and Free Expression

Free speech is a demanding value, not an easy one. We all have an obligation to wrestle with its meaning and understand the responsibilities that it imposes upon us.

President Christopher L. Eisgruber

From foreword to Princeton Pre-Read edition of Professor Keith E. Whittington’s "Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech"

Student raises their hand in a classroom setting surrounded by other students
a student reads at the podium

Fostering Free Expression

  • First-year students attend an orientation program on free speech. In fall 2023, President Eisgruber was joined in conversation by Anthony Romero ’87, Executive Director of the ACLU. In fall 2022, President Eisgruber highlighted the University’s statement on free expression.
  • The University has invited PEN America, a worldwide champion for free expression, to conduct workshops about free speech and academic freedom on campus. Workshops have been held for staff in campus life and the Office of the Dean of the College. Events are planned for faculty and students.
  • Princeton students from different backgrounds, faith traditions and political orientations make up the Rose Castle Society, which focuses on how people with opposing viewpoints can come together across differences.
  • Princeton hosts speakers with a wide range of views, and no invited speaker has been shouted down or denied the right to speak at Princeton since 1970. Speakers in recent years: Dorian Abbot, Ted Cruz, the Dalai Lama, Mohammed el-Kurd, Riley Gaines, DeRay Mckesson, Vic Mensa, Charles Murray, Rick Santorum, Ilya Shapiro and Amy Wax.
Grad School, Library, Rare Books

Academic Freedom -- Statement on Freedom of Expression

Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the University, Princeton University fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University community ‘to discuss any problem that presents itself.'

Statement on Freedom of Expression

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Leadership Communications

"Remarks at the Conference on Academic Freedom: Normative, Legal, and Empirical Perspectives," President Eisgruber's remarks, October 2, 2023

"Let your voices rise," President Eisgruber's address to graduates at Princeton's Commencement exercises, May 30, 2023

"Princeton’s Tradition of Institutional Restraint," President Eisgruber’s President's Page column in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, November 7, 2022

President's Remarks for Freshman Orientation Session on Free Expression, September 1, 2022

President's Letter: The State of the University, February 2021, on Free Speech and Truth Seeking

Why mutual respect makes free speech better, President Eisgruber’s 2020 opinion piece for The Daily Princetonian

Contested Civility: Free Speech & Inclusivity on Campus,” President Eisgruber’s Inaugural Arlin M. Adams Lecture on Law, Religion, and the First Amendment at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Tuesday, November 12, 2019

President Eisgruber’s Foreword to "Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech,” from the 2018 Princeton Pre-Read edition of Professor Keith E. Whittington’s book

Christopher L. Eisgruber

Contested Civility quote

…universities should foster rigorous, constructive, truth-seeking discussions about questions of consequence. In other words, in addition to permitting people to speak freely, we should study questions that matter, not just any questions; we should proceed according to standards and with methods likely to distinguish better arguments from worse ones; and we should treat one another with the kind of courtesy and respect that allow us to learn from each other, despite our differences in both viewpoint and background.

President Eisgruber
From "Contested Civility: Free Speech & Inclusivity on Campus"

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Policies & Guidelines

Statement on Freedom of Expression, from the University’s Rights, Rules, Responsibilities 1.1.3

Guidance on protests and free expression, from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students

Addressing concerns on freedom of expression, from the Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity

Council of the Princeton University Community charter, Chapter 8, on freedom of inquiry, expression, publication and association

Association of American Universities Statement on Academic Freedom, from AAU 2013 Statement on Academic Principles

On-Campus Support

The University provides extensive resources to support free expression on campus.

I agree strongly with Justice Brandeis — and I do regard the educational and constitutional traditions as wedded here — that the remedy for bad speech is more speech.

President Eisgruber

From an interview in The Atlantic, October 2021

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