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Frequently Asked Questions about Free Speech at the University of Tennessee

What is UT’s stance on freedom of expression/free speech?

The University of Tennessee:

  • Supports the rights of students and other members of the campus community to freely express their views for or against actions and opinions with which they agree or disagree;
  • Recognizes a concurrent obligation to safeguard freedom of speech while, at the same time, maintaining an atmosphere on campus conducive to academic work; and
  • Will preserve the dignity and seriousness of university ceremonies and public exercises and will respect the private rights of all individuals.


How does UT’s stance on freedom of expression/free speech impact the Bias Education and Response Team?

In responding to reports of bias, UT will not violate the First Amendment rights of students, faculty, or staff. Even when an incident of bias occurs, disciplinary or corrective action may not be taken toward the offender if it is determined that the act of bias was a protected exercise of their freedom of expression. As a result, in many situations, the Bias Education and Response Team’s response to a bias incident will take the form of supporting the students adversely impacted by the bias incident. The team will facilitate services such as counseling, health services, or other referrals as needed to address safety concerns and to provide assistance and comfort to those impacted.


Who can I talk to if I have a concern about freedom of expression/free speech at UT?

The Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards are available to assist students with questions or concerns about freedom of expression/free speech at the university.


Where can I learn more about the First Amendment?


State Law

University Policies

Campus Policies & Procedures

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