TODAY: Town Hall on Free Speech

Combined photos of Radhika Gawde and Kevin Johnson
The moderators of next week’s town hall: ASUCD President Radhika Gawde and School of Lawn Dean Kevin Johnson.

ASUCD President Radhika Gawde has been added as a co-moderator for the UC Davis Campus Town Hall on Free Speech at Public Universities, happening today (March 7).


  • WHAT: UC Davis Campus Town Hall on Free Speech at Public Universities
  • WHERE: Multipurpose room, Student Community Center
  • WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 7
  • ADMISSION: Free, no RSVPs or tickets necessary

Gawde and Kevin Johnson, dean of the School of Law, will be the moderators for a panel addressing the role and responsibilities of public universities in supporting free speech.

“After becoming ASUCD president, I quickly learned about the balancing that has to be done between one’s First Amendment rights, those of others, and the university’s legal obligations surrounding the First Amendment,” Gawde said. “I hope students, after hearing from the panelists, will gain a working knowledge of their rights and how to navigate the challenges that arise from negative speech."

Johnson echoed the importance of free speech.

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

The panelists:

  • 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
  • Brian Soucek, professor in the School of Law
Photo of Ashutosh Bhagwat
Ashutosh Bhagwat
Photo of Michelle Deutchman
Michelle Deutchman
Photo of Gregory Downs
Gregory Downs
Photo of Brian Soucek
Brian Soucek

The event builds on a discussion started by Chancellor Gary S. May, who last month issued 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.”

Media Resources

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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