Statement | Freedom of Expression

ACTA Commends University of Michigan’s Draft Statement Setting Standards for Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity on Campus

November 14, 2023 by ACTA

In October, the University of Michigan Board of Regents released an excellent draft statement on freedom of expression for community feedback, entitled the University of Michigan Principles on Diversity of Thought and Freedom of Expression. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) commends the board of regents for this vital effort to safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus.

The statement affirms that “open inquiry and spirited debate” are “the lifeblood” of the institution, serving to “promote discovery and creativity.” It continues, “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 viewpoints in our classrooms and labs, lecture series and symposia, studios and performance halls, and among our entire community of students, teachers, researchers, and staff.” It further outlines that “Every member of our academic community should expect to confront ideas that differ from their own, however uncomfortable those encounters may be.”  

ACTA President Michael Poliakoff remarks, “As an alumnus of the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1981), I am proud of the university for its commitment to vouchsafe the free exchange of ideas in teaching, research, and campus life. The regents have vigorously confirmed that the future of this university—renowned for its contributions to the arts and sciences and for its eminent schools of law and medicine—depends on the unfettered freedom to question, challenge, and debate. With the University of Michigan Principles, the Wolverines join the ranks of the leaders of higher education in a victory for enlightenment and progress.”   

When it adopts the principles, the University of Michigan will join 104 institutions that have affirmed the Chicago Principles on Freedom of Expression or a similar statement. And while it will be a significant step in the right direction, the next, yet more important step is for university leadership to model the principles for the rest of the campus community.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

Discover More