Oregon State University fosters an inclusive environment where everyone is provided an equal opportunity to succeed, learn, explore and engage in dialogue.

Freedom of expression is essential to the university’s commitment to ensure inclusive educational opportunities.

At Oregon State, differences and dissenting viewpoints are not only tolerated but encouraged as part of the educational process. As a community, we recognize that from time to time, freedom of expression is a right that may raise strong emotional responses when put into practice. 

The following principles provide the foundation for expression at OSU.    

  • Freedom of speech (also called freedom of expression) is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. and Oregon constitutions.  
  • While individuals have a right to make statements whether they are popular or unpopular, agreeable or offensive, Oregon State community members share a responsibility to treat each other respectfully and civilly, including when discussing or debating controversial topics.  
  • Freedom of speech does not extend to specific threats of violence against individuals and cannot be exercised in ways that significantly disrupt the operation of the university or the legal rights of others.
  • Freedom of speech generally cannot be denied because an opinion or the language used to express an opinion is viewed as highly offensive.
  • The University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression (PDF) to ensure that it does not disrupt the university’s activities.1

  • In addition to our position on Freedom of Expression, OSU commits to the following purpose, priorities and philosophy of campus response to protest (PDF).

  • The university may exercise its own right to speak out against speech that runs counter to OSU’s commitment to inclusive and equitable educational opportunity.

For more information about specific principles, consult the Documents to support campus protest (PDF).

1 Free speech law is highly context-specific and complex.  OSU employees with legal questions about how free speech applies to particular scenarios should contact the OSU Office of General Counsel (541-737-2472).  OSU students with questions should contact the Office of the Dean of Student Life