A statement from Brown University
University urges discussion, dialogue in resolving free-speech issues
An advertisement published recently in the Brown Daily Herald led to
conflict and has sparked debate about freedom of speech on college campuses. The
University plans to facilitate discussion of these issues and urges student
groups on all sides to use dialogue and debate in resolving their
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A paid advertisement titled “Ten Reasons Why
Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea – and Racist Too” appeared in
Tuesday’s edition of the Brown Daily Herald. That ad and the
alleged removal Friday of an entire press run from the Herald’s
campus newspaper racks by student groups opposed to the ad have sparked debate
about freedom of speech on college campuses. Interim President Sheila E.
Blumstein has authorized the following statement on behalf of the
Intellectual and academic freedom is the cornerstone of any institution of
higher learning and is one of our community’s defining values.
The University recognizes the power of unpopular ideas to cause distress,
anger and resentment. The most effective response to ideas, however – even
to ideas that may be deeply offensive – is not to silence them or
intimidate those who espouse or publish them, but rather to develop effective
opposing arguments through wider civil discourse.
According to news reports, students who were angry with the Brown Daily
Herald removed Friday’s entire press run from newspaper racks on
campus and attempted to remove remaining copies from the Herald’s
editorial offices. Such behavior is unacceptable within the Brown community; the
Office of Student Life will review information concerning these incidents.
The Herald is a fully independent newspaper operated by Brown
students; it is neither funded nor controlled by the University. Consistent with
its commitment to the free exchange of ideas, the University recognizes and
supports the Herald’s right to publish any material it chooses,
even if that material is objectionable to members of the campus community.
Discussion, debate and dialogue are the proper tools for resolving
disagreements within an academic community. That has already begun on our campus
in meetings and through electronic media. The University plans to facilitate
continued discussion about these issues.