How We Practice Free Expression

With free expression at risk on college campuses, it’s more important than ever that we all speak our minds and engage one another with respect. Here’s how we do it at Vanderbilt.

students sitting outside

In our conversations, as in all things at Vanderbilt, we support and challenge one another.

We speak up. We question. We risk sharing our ideas and opinions.

We are free to disagree.

We listen at least as much as we speak. We keep our minds open to the possibility of persuasion.

We allow for a broad range of opinions to be heard-including some that make us uncomfortable.

We don't shout anyone down. We don't silence or cancel. We don't resort to ad hominem attacks. Our debates can be passionate, but they remain respectful.

We don't rush to righteousness. We don't dismiss those who disagree with us as immoral. We respect their humanity and seek to empathize.

Whether we agree or disagree, we stay engaged. We keep the conversation going.

If we don't like an argument, we challenge it with a stronger one.

We deal in facts and evidence.

We don't expect the university to tell us what to think.

Even in the heat of disagreement, we remember our shared purpose and common values.

We are a diverse community of critical thinkers.

And we are One Vanderbilt.

person in class
professor and students sitting at a table during a class discussion