Help build a culture of free expression at UT–Austin!

Only 32% of UT–Austin students surveyed by FIRE say the administration clearly protects free speech on campus.

Hold UT–Austin to ACTA’s Gold Standard

The University of Texas (UT)–Austin is struggling to protect and foster free expression on campus. In 2021, a new academic center dedicated to the study and promotion of the U.S. Constitution, free markets, and individual liberty was met with significant pushback from the university community. In 2020, a U.S. circuit court judge had to order UT–Austin to disband its bias response teams and delete its Hate and Bias Incident Policy. Before that, the 112th Student Government Assembly approved a resolution urging the institution to adopt the Chicago Principles, but university leaders have yet to act. 

The University of Texas–Austin does not meet the ACTA Gold Standard for Freedom of Expression™, but it could with your encouragement. Together, we can help our country’s best schools to nourish a culture of free expression on campus. By taking steps such as adding a program in free expression to student orientation, implementing policies and procedures to support viewpoint diversity, and adopting the Chicago Principles, the University of Texas–Austin would improve education for its students today and for generations to come.

What is the Gold Standard?

  • Adopt the Chicago Principles on Freedom of Expression or a similarly strong statement.
  • Establish clear expectations regarding free expression in student, faculty, and staff handbooks and codes of conduct.
  • Include a free expression unit in new-student orientations.
  • Protect the diversity of political viewpoints by adopting an institutional neutrality policy such as the Kalven Committee Report.

  • Sponsor campus debates that model civil discourse.
  • Encourage establishment of student groups promoting free expression.
  • Protect the rights of invited speakers and listeners to engage with controversial ideas.
  • Establish and enforce consequences that deter disruption of sponsored speakers, events, and classes.
  • Encourage presidents, provosts, and deans to model respect for a broad range of viewpoints.
  • Guarantee that viewpoint diversity is reflected in student life policies and practices.
  • Support academic centers dedicated to free inquiry and intellectual diversity.
  • Make intellectual diversity a stated goal in faculty hiring, evaluation, and promotion.
  • Eliminate speech and IT policies that have a chilling effect on free expression.
  • Ensure that Title IX and other disciplinary procedures do not infringe on free expression.
  • Disband bias response teams.
  • Review student government policies to ensure viewpoint neutrality in student group recognition and funding.
  • Incorporate explicit policies of free expression in governance bylaws and other key institutional documents.
  • Include a commitment to free expression as a criterion for presidential searches and evaluations.
  • Require free expression and viewpoint diversity training for administrative staff.
  • Conduct regular evaluations of the state of free expression and intellectual diversity on campus.

“The only way to figure out what is true, valuable and morally right is through thought and discussion. Freedom of speech is the path, not the problem. And it is vital that our institutions of higher learning understand that and make it known to all those whom we serve.”

Jay Hartzell

President of University of Texas–Austin

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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.

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