Upholding Mutual Respect and Civility

April 18, 2024

Dear Beach Community:

Passionate expression and dissent prompted by political and social issues both close to home and around the world have long been part of college campuses.

Most recently, we’ve grappled with the tragedies of the Israel-Hamas war. At The Beach and institutions across the country, we’ve seen many events, resident and guest speakers, and demonstrations.

This conflict has brought pain, anger, and debate. On our campus, we have protected the right to free expression for those feeling impacted by current events and, more broadly, for all community members who wish to speak on matters of concern to them.

With this right to free expression also comes responsibility. A tenet of our community is to engage in the peaceful yet robust exercise of expression consistent with our time, place, and manner policy and, just as importantly, to support the free speech rights of others with whom we may disagree. These content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral regulations apply to all members of our community and govern all expressive behavior on campus. They also govern the scheduling and use of facilities and grounds for campus activities, events, and programs. Please review and follow this policy. It is designed to protect everyone’s rights.

The so-called “heckler’s veto” — disrupting or shouting down others during presentations and events — is not protected speech; it is a form of censorship and a violation of our time, place, and manner policy. I am proud that we have not experienced such coercive disruption at The Beach. Thank you.

I raise these issues with you because, in these intensely contentious times of extremely polarized opinions, we must continue to support and shape a Beach culture of free thought coupled with mutual respect and civility. We strive to have all community members feel safe, feel heard, and thrive freely and authentically.

I know we all want this to be a campus where we continue to bring our best selves to the classroom and the workplace, living the values we collectively hold so close – compassion, creativity, acceptance, and innovation. Everyone should have that opportunity and right to bring their whole selves to The Beach, whatever their views or identities. Please protect that right by refusing to denigrate, defame, or label those who hold views different from your own.

Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D.