Statement by Northwestern University President and Provost Regarding Academic Freedom and Title IX
Northwestern University is firmly committed to free expression and academic freedom, as has been demonstrated on many occasions at Northwestern. The University is dedicated to vigorous inquiry and robust debate, particularly regarding the challenging issues facing society.
We are equally committed to creating and maintaining a safe, healthy, and harassment-free environment for all members of our community. We stand behind Title IX and our policies that support this commitment. We believe strongly that if a person comes forward with a complaint under Title IX, that person should be confident that the complaint will be taken seriously and the University will respond appropriately.
We firmly believe that these two legitimate interests can coexist, and indeed do at Northwestern. Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against members of the Northwestern community are not protected expression or the proper exercise of academic freedom. Equally, the offensiveness of a particular view, standing alone, is not a sufficient basis to establish a Title IX claim. Free expression, no matter how repugnant or offensive, must be protected and should be countered only with more speech and close examination, not censorship.
A recent controversy centered at Northwestern has raised these broader issues, which undoubtedly will continue to be discussed. We encourage such debate. But we ask that members of the Northwestern community be mindful of the privacy of others and help maintain a campus climate that fosters mutual respect and healthy discourse, while protecting the interests of those who take advantage of the rights afforded to them under the law.
Morton Schapiro, President and Professor
Daniel Linzer, Provost and Professor