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Motion for Ad Hoc Committee on University Speech

Whereas a fundamental function of the Senate of the Academic Council is to assure academic freedom; and

Whereas members of the faculty and the university community are concerned about a central element of academic freedom, speech, not only at Stanford but throughout the nation:

Be it resolved that the senate establish an ad hoc faculty-led Committee on University Speech to assess whether there are constraints on academic freedom and speech, to inform the university as to their findings, and to recommend changes, if necessary, as to how the senate conducts oversight, and

Be it further resolved that the ad hoc committee report back to the senate on the following issues:

1. How should we approach the ‘right’ of speech, and associated responsibilities, in an academic environment?
2. In what ways, and to what extent, if any, have the university or members of the university community or outside actors taken actions that constrain or encourage the free exchange of diverse ideas on campus? This assessment should consider the boundaries of speech as an academic freedom and the principles and values that underpin an individual’s ability and right to participate in the free exchange of ideas.
3. What formal procedures currently exist to respond to policies or actions that members of the Stanford community perceive to be contrary to Stanford’s principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas and speech?
4. If procedures are found insufficient to protect individual rights, what policies and practices should be considered to improve protection of academic speech and strengthen the role of the faculty in preserving it?

Reporting: The Ad Hoc Committee on University Speech shall report its findings and recommendations to the senate during the 2023-24 academic year. There shall be an interim report to the senate that explains the process by which this committee shall conduct its work.

Composition: The committee shall include up to seven academic council members, who are the voting members of the committee. Non-AC instructors (lecturers) and staff, not exceeding four, may be appointed as ex officio, non-voting members.