Washington, DC—This week, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution adopting the Ohio State Philosophy on Institutional and Leadership Statements in Support of the Chicago Principles. On Wednesday, August 16, 2023, the board’s Talent, Compensation & Governance Committee unanimously passed the measure by voice vote, moving it on for consideration during the board meeting the following day. On August 17, the full board of trustees voted 17-0 to adopt the resolution as part of the consent agenda.
The Ohio State Board of Trustees has taken decisive steps to reaffirm its commitment to free speech, beginning with an interim free speech policy in 2022, finalized in May. While the university has been operating on the policy’s free speech guidance for the past year, this week’s action by the board of trustees is a formal and luminous way to integrate the fundamentals of the storied University of Chicago’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and the Kalven Report on institutional neutrality further into campus life.
The resolution states, “Ohio State takes seriously its role in promoting and supporting public discourse and is steadfastly committed to protecting the First Amendment right to free speech and expression. . . . While universities have an independent right, and in some cases a responsibility, to speak on their own behalf, the Board of Trustees recognizes that institutional speech carries a corresponding responsibility to be judicious and transparently principled in deciding if, when, and how to engage in such speech so as not to harm the core values of free expression and intellectual diversity.”
“By so clearly endorsing free expression and institutional neutrality, and doing so unanimously, the Ohio State Board of Trustees has claimed a position in the vanguard of leadership in higher education,” says ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “Decades ago, the Kalven Committee identified the university’s ‘respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of opinions.’ Today, such principles are too often imperiled on campus and in American civic life. The Ohio State Board of Trustees has done Ohio and the nation a service by defending the core values of American higher education and our free society.”
ACTA recognizes that Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees is in the very top rank of academic leaders who understand that the freedom to question, speak, debate, and discuss is the very lifeblood of American society and must be protected.
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