University of Michigan regents approves free speech principles: 'Cancel culture is dead'

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a campus-wide free speech statement on Tuesday.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a campus-wide free speech statement on Tuesday.

In a press release, the university said it adopted a “statement of principles on diversity of thought and free speech,” which was first introduced in October.

”These principles declare unequivocally that cancel culture is dead at the University of Michigan,” said Regent Mark Bernstein, who’s a Democrat, according to the Detroit News.

”We are a public university with a long and proud history of robust engagement on issues of great societal consequence, indeed, actively confronting the most controversial, a hallmark of our culture that we fully embrace,” Bernstein said.

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”As a great public university guided by the letter and spirit of the First Amendment, we enthusiastically embrace our responsibility to stimulate and support diverse ideas and model constructive engagement with different viewpoints in our classrooms and labs, lecture series and symposia, studios and performance halls, exhibits and publications, and among our entire community of students, teachers, researchers, and staff. When we disagree on matters of intellectual significance, we make space for contesting perspectives. We must listen critically and self-critically,” reads the statement.

”We affirm the value of exchanging ideas; questioning assumptions; learning from those with whom we disagree and those whose voices have been marginalized; challenging views we find misguided or pernicious; and engaging with the broadest range of scholarly subjects and  materials. We strive to meet conflict and controversy with understanding and reason, refuting our opponents rather than revoking invitations or refusing them a platform, and contesting their ideas instead of attacking their character.

Not all ideas are of equal value. That is precisely why they must be subject to intense scrutiny and thoughtful debate. Our deep commitment to free expression does not extend to speech or conduct that violates the law or University policy, including targeted speech that constitutes bullying, defamation, destruction of property, discrimination, harassment, violence, or threats. And the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the university’s ordinary activities,” the statement also reads.

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The statement also “affirms protections for speakers, performers, and the audiences” but says protesters are not to “disrupt the presentations.”

University of Michigan Vice President and General Counsel Timothy G. Lynch will form a panel to recommend ways the free speech principles can be put into practice across the three University of Michigan campuses.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni said in a statement on X that it “applauds the @UMich Board of Regents for taking this proactive step in support of free speech and viewpoint diversity on campus.”

”It’s only one step, however, and more courage and leadership are needed. We urge Michigan students, faculty, and administrators to commit themselves to making these words a reality on campus,” the group wrote.