Statement on Freedom of Speech and Expression

Reaffirmed by the Board of Trustees on 12/8/23

SMU has a strong history of embracing our changing world while staying true to our educational mission and core values. Rooted in the Wesleyan tradition and shaped by our Methodist heritage, our University is guided by an enduring motto chosen by founding President Robert S. Hyer, “Veritas Liberabit Vos: The truth shall make you free.”

Upon completion of SMU’s 50th academic year, then President Willis M. Tate reinforced dedication to that motto in his May 1965 Commencement address – “This university was committed, before its doors were ever opened, to a life of learning built upon high academic integrity, the unfettered pursuit of truth in a climate of freedom of inquiry, concern for every student and faculty member, and service to society as a source of intellectual, cultural and spiritual energy.”

To this day, SMU steadfastly upholds this heritage by embracing the principles of open dialogue and academic freedom that lie at the heart of our educational endeavor.

The Board of Trustees reaffirms the right of all members of the academic community to explore and discuss their interests, express opinions publicly and privately, and come together to share their views in an orderly manner (SMU Policy 9.4). Freedom of speech and expression are essential to educate and empower students to face the challenges of a culturally complex world. They are also the foundation that supports academic freedom and the spirit of open inquiry – principles that safeguard and enable our faculty and students to create knowledge and pursue world-changing research and innovation. (SMU Faculty Senate Resolution on Free and Civil Speech, February 5, 2020.)

As an independent, private university, SMU encourages debate and discussions that challenge beliefs and introduce perspectives. While our diverse backgrounds may inevitably lead to conflicting viewpoints that may be unpopular, disagreeable, or offensive to some, SMU is dedicated to maintaining a welcoming University where all members of the community are able to express their views. The SMU Student Values Statement, developed by our students, pledges the personal integrity and sincere respect for each other that exemplify the cultural intelligence and academic excellence of our institution.

The SMU Board of Trustees hereby reaffirms the University’s historic commitment to the principles of free expression while preserving civility during open, robust debate on campus.