Freedom of speech comes with responsibility

[media-credit id=2 align=”alignleft” width=”240″]Chancellor Andrew Leavitt[/media-credit]









By: Chancellor Andrew Leavitt


Freedom of speech is a fundamental right in a democracy. For the United States, this right was not given to us. This right was fought for so our country could be rooted in diversity of thought. American patriots lost their lives in the pursuit of this right because they knew limiting the speech of citizens limits the potential of our country.
Today, we as citizens need to balance this fundamental right with the inherent responsibility that goes along with it. We live in a diverse society – and are living through a critical time in history – where people are crying out for inclusion, respect and civility. We must take action to change the culture of our campus and our country so people aren’t forced to continue in their fight to live a life without discrimination. We cannot support openly racist, sexist or discriminating behavior. We cannot continue to look the other way while people are attacked through words and actions.
A college campus should be an incubator of ideas, protected by freedom of speech and academic freedom. We are here to progress concepts, advance facts, discover, question and debate. We will also be faced with ideas or concepts that make us uncomfortable. Part of the transformational impact of a college experience is growing from what we see and hear. We must learn to cope with the environment around us, but also decide if we need to take an active role to change it.
As citizens of the United States and members of this campus community, we need to give greater volume to this critical conversation. We already have an incredible force of faculty, staff and students making a real difference in our community. These voices-of-change need everyone’s help so we can stop the words and actions that bring people down and instead promote the words and actions that elevate us as a community.
The division of Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence has recently completed the analysis on the Campus Climate Survey administered last spring – a study to measure the experiences of student, faculty and staff at UW Oshkosh. The results of this important study were released on Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center Ballroom. I hope the campus community takes the time understand the findings of this study and see how our words and actions impact those around us. Together we can improve the climate at UW Oshkosh.