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Rights of Free Speech and Academic Freedom

The exercise and protection of freedom of speech and expression are at the core of the University’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

UC Irvine actively engages the community in promoting and modeling civil and respectful dialogue on campus. Visit What We Are Doing for a sample of our ongoing efforts to address free speech, academic freedom and civility in a multitude of venues including programs, meetings, social gatherings and public statements.

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What We Are Doing

UCI actively engages the community in promoting and modeling civil and respectful dialogue on campus. Visit What We Are Doing for a sample of our ongoing efforts to address free speech, academic freedom and civility in a multitude of venues including programs, meetings, social gatherings and public statements.

UCI is committed to building success in First Amendment expression through the practice of Constructive Engagement. The five principles for Constructive Engagement are

  • Active engagement
  • Deliberate socialization
  • Unique teachable moment
  • Collaborative cross-divisional planning
  • Mutual and permeable boundaries

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Academic Freedom

The freedom of a college or university to pursue its mission without interference from government – to determine for itself on academic grounds on who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study – are based on the U.S. Supreme Court which recognized a First Amendment right of institutional academic freedom.

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UCI Experts

For a list of UCI faculty and scholars with insight and knowledge into issues and topics related to free speech, click here »

What is Free Speech?

 

Free speech as defined by the United States Constitution and the State of California Constitution does not give a public university the right to regulate speech in public forums. A public university must remain neutral in subject matter and viewpoint.
There is less protection for speech that incites to illegal activity. Speech is fully protected unless it is accompanied by, or incites to, illegal activity.
Current rulings by the federal courts have found speech codes, as a general matter, too vague or overbroad.
Because the University of California is a state entity, it complies with both the U.S. and California Constitutions.

U.S. Constitution

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…”
Amendment I

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
Amendment XIV, Section 1
Making the First Amendment applicable to state and local governments

California Constitution

“Every person may freely speak, write and publish…sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.”
Article I, Section 2(a)

California Education Code

“…The Regents of the University of California…shall [not] make or enforce any rule subjecting any student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus…, is protected from governmental restriction” by the U.S. or California Constitutions.
Section 66301