Free Speech Town Hall to Be Held March 7

Photo of the preamble to the Constitution, with separate sheet of paper reading "free speech" laid on top
The UC Davis Campus Town Hall on Free Speech at Public Universities will be held at 3 p.m. March 7 in the Student Community Center. (Getty)

Update 4 p.m. Feb. 23: Associated Students of UC Davis President Radhika Gawde has joined the event as a co-moderator.

The campus community is invited to a March 7 town hall to discuss the role and responsibilities of public universities in supporting free speech.

The UC Davis Campus Town Hall on Free Speech at Public Universities, including a panel discussion, will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, in the multipurpose room of the Student Community Center.

The town hall builds on a discussion started by Chancellor Gary S. May, who last month released a video message about free speech at public universities.

“As a public institution, UC Davis is obligated by law to guarantee free speech protections,” May said in the video. “That's why we allow registered student organizations to bring speakers with diverse — and sometimes controversial — perspectives to campus. It's why we allow an open forum for many views, ideas and opinions, including those that some may dislike or find offensive. … So how do we deal with these negative influences on our campus and in society? I believe the best way forward is not to silence those voices we dislike, but rather to rebut them and counter them with something better.”

The March 7 forum will be jointly moderated by Radhika Gawde, president of the Associated Students of UC Davis, and Kevin Johnson, dean of the School of Law.

“Free speech is the bedrock of the modern university,” Johnson said. “It extends to students, faculty, staff and the community. This discussion will help us all appreciate those fundamental rights.”

Participating in the panel discussion will be Ashutosh Bhagwat, professor in the School of Law; Michelle Deutchman, executive director of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement; Gregory Downs, professor of history and chair of the Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility; and Brian Soucek, professor in the School of Law.

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Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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