Distributed March 17, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

A statement from Brown University

University urges discussion, dialogue in resolving free-speech issues

An advertisement published recently in the Brown Daily Herald led to conflict and has sparked debate about freedom of speech on college campuses. The University plans to facilitate discussion of these issues and urges student groups on all sides to use dialogue and debate in resolving their disagreements.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A paid advertisement titled “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea – and Racist Too” appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Brown Daily Herald. That ad and the alleged removal Friday of an entire press run from the Herald’s campus newspaper racks by student groups opposed to the ad have sparked debate about freedom of speech on college campuses. Interim President Sheila E. Blumstein has authorized the following statement on behalf of the University:

Intellectual and academic freedom is the cornerstone of any institution of higher learning and is one of our community’s defining values.

The University recognizes the power of unpopular ideas to cause distress, anger and resentment. The most effective response to ideas, however – even to ideas that may be deeply offensive – is not to silence them or intimidate those who espouse or publish them, but rather to develop effective opposing arguments through wider civil discourse.

According to news reports, students who were angry with the Brown Daily Herald removed Friday’s entire press run from newspaper racks on campus and attempted to remove remaining copies from the Herald’s editorial offices. Such behavior is unacceptable within the Brown community; the Office of Student Life will review information concerning these incidents.

The Herald is a fully independent newspaper operated by Brown students; it is neither funded nor controlled by the University. Consistent with its commitment to the free exchange of ideas, the University recognizes and supports the Herald’s right to publish any material it chooses, even if that material is objectionable to members of the campus community.

Discussion, debate and dialogue are the proper tools for resolving disagreements within an academic community. That has already begun on our campus in meetings and through electronic media. The University plans to facilitate continued discussion about these issues.