Student Free Speech on Campus

At Miami University, we believe that the First Amendment is essential to the pursuit of knowledge. We educate our students to become informed citizens, to think critically, and to express themselves in a thoughtful and compelling manner. The Constitutional right to free speech is at the very heart of this education. 

We encourage students to express their views through the standard student channels of communication, including student organizations, conversations with faculty, and academic assignments. Students also may express their views by demonstrating peacefully for causes and concepts they support or oppose. 

While most people are aware of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the law supporting it can be complex. For example, the First Amendment does not protect all speech; threats, defamation, and many forms of harassment are not protected. 

In order to protect the First Amendment rights of all of our students, we have embedded the principles of free speech in several University policies:

Respecting and preserving the right to free speech can, at times, be unsettling and difficult. With a student body of over 17,000 undergraduates and 500+ registered student organizations, every student at Miami is likely to hear or see something with which they do not agree. However, students do not need to agree with an idea in order to gain from the experience. It is not unusual for a speaker, a display, or other activity to generate impassioned conversations that deepen our students’ understanding of, and commitment to, their values. 

In a democratic society, the true test of our beliefs and values is how we express and respond to disparate views, but does not include the suppression of opposing voices and points of view. Our commitment to these values is best expressed in Miami’s Values Statement:

Miami University is a scholarly community whose members believe that a liberal education is grounded in qualities of character as well as of intellect. We respect the dignity of other persons, the rights and property of others, and the right of others to hold and express disparate beliefs. We believe in honesty, integrity, and the importance of moral conduct. We defend the freedom of inquiry that is the heart of learning and combine that freedom with the exercise of judgment and the acceptance of personal responsibility.