Institutional Speech

Maintaining the Marketplace of Ideas

Universities play a unique role in the discovery, expansion, and dissemination of knowledge by fostering scientific exploration, free inquiry, and a robust exchange of ideas. Free speech is the cornerstone of this pursuit of knowledge and safeguarding an open environment for free expression is paramount to Utah State University fulfilling its mission and principles of community.

Institutional Neutrality

As a modern land-grant university, USU’s role is to serve as a catalyst for discourse and engagement that enhances our communities. This is best achieved when the institution maintains a position of neutrality, where faculty and students are empowered to explore their own beliefs, opinions, and personal values and are encouraged to engage in conversations that transcend differences.  

Under USU Policy 541, only the President and their designees may speak on behalf of USU. For institutional statements, USU has adopted a position of neutrality. Learn more about USU’s role during social and political events on the president’s website.

Additionally, in compliance with HB 261 (Equal Opportunity Initiatives), USU will not take a position on the following topics:

  • anti-racism
  • bias
  • critical race theory
  • implicit bias
  • intersectionality
  • prohibited discriminatory practices
  • racial privilege. 

This limitation applies to all employees in their role representing the university, colleges, divisions, departments, programs, committees or other sub-units. 

First Amendment Protection

This limitation does not restrict academic freedom and therefore does not apply to curriculum and classroom discussions, provided the topics are relevant to the subject of the course. This limitation also does not restrict the First Amendment rights of individuals in their personal capacity. Employees should explicitly differentiate personal expression from their institutional speech. 

USU values and encourages community and civic engagement and supports individuals’ active participation in public affairs during their personal time and with their personal resources. 

Related Policies

A forthcoming policy will address these issues more thoroughly.