ACE Resource Hub Helps Leaders Support Campus Inclusion and Freedom of Expression
Published: April 24, 2019

​​​Balancing the demands of inclusion and freedom of expression is an increasingly important task for leaders who want to do right by their communities and their students. ACE has created a platform for higher education leaders to exchange ideas and practices on the intersection of campus inclusion and free expression, including content to help build awareness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges in balancing these tensions, all produced with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Last year, ACE conducted a national survey of college and university presidents that found nearly all presidents (98 percent) believe promoting an inclusive society and protecting freedom of speech are extremely or very important to our democracy, reinforcing that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive. The survey was produced as a companion to a Knight-Gallup survey on student attitudes toward the First Amendment.

“We want to shift from conversation to action,” said Lorelle Espinosa, ACE’s vice president for research. “Too often, media reports have pitted values of diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression against each other, when in fact they should be mutually reinforcing. I believe ACE is well-poised to not only be a leader in the discussion around these issues but to empower leaders in the field to take action.”​

ACE’s Higher Education Today blog series, “Freedom of Speech, Diversity, and Inclusion,” explores issues like inclusion and free expression as mutually reinforcing ideals, an institutions’ legal obligations in this area, deep civility, and the growing threats to free speech on campuses and beyond.  

Complementing the blog series, ACE produced a video series featuring more than a dozen higher education leaders, scholars, and First Amendment experts speaking to their experience addressing tensions between campus inclusion and free expression. Contributors include Georgetown University (DC) President John J. DeGioia, Bates College (ME) President A. Clayton Spencer, and University of Missouri System Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Kevin McDonald, among others. 

ACE has also produced two action-oriented briefs on the topic. The first focuses on how institutions can respond and prepare for requests to have a controversial speaker speak on campus. The other brief addresses hateful incidents on campus and explores how institutional leaders can balance free speech rights with providing a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for students, faculty, and staff. Click here to read both briefs. 

You can find this content and other resources on campus inclusion and free speech by clicking here