Ball State updated its statement about freedom of expression at its Board of Trustees meeting for the first time since 1968.
At the Jan. 31 board meeting, the university’s Freedom of Expression committee presented its report recommending the university adopt an updated unifying framework statement.
Headed by Paaige Turner, dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media, the committee has been meeting for the past five months to review Ball State’s current policies about freedom of expression on campus, according to an email sent out by President Geoffrey Mearns.
The committee endorsed the adoption of the “Chicago Statement,” the free speech policy statement produced by the Committee of Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago in its 2015 report.
Mearns’ email states the “Chicago Statement” has been adopted by more than 70 colleges and universities nationwide. It states the version approved by the board was modified to reflect the “values” of Ball State within a statement that “upholds the importance of free and open debate in the tradition of the First Amendment.”
The new unifying framework statement replaces Section 1 of the Statement on Rights and Responsibilities in Ball State’s Faculty and Professional Personnel Handbook. The statement will also be incorporated into all employee handbooks as well as our Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
The previous Statement on Rights and Responsibilities was divided into two sections, whereas the new statement is made of six new sections.
The board also endorsed the recommendation to create a campus engagement campaign to educate and celebrate freedom of expression by including specialized educational sessions, developing a training curriculum and communication skill competencies to facilitate difficult conversations related to these principles.