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Student Affairs and Academic Support

USC's Commitment to Free Speech

February 14, 2024

Dear Gamecocks,

The University of South Carolina is proud to have a campus climate that promotes and protects constructive debate, dialogue and opportunities to learn about new and even challenging ideas. 

As other campuses around the country have seen rising tensions, and our own university was ranked poorly in a national survey of campus free expression, USC leaders have been thoughtfully reviewing and revising policies that govern free expression on our campus.

Last year, the USC board affirmed the university’s commitment to free speech by adopting what is commonly known as “The Chicago Principles,” which notes, “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”  

USC is also taking proactive steps to strengthen its free expression policies. For example, event flyers posted on campus no longer require inclusion of a statement of sponsorship from a campus organization.

Free expression offers you opportunities to engage in open inquiry. Continue to seek out and listen to new ideas and engage in spirited debate with friends and classmates. But remember that there are limits to constitutionally protected expression. You may not disrupt a speaker or block the ability of others to see or hear a speaker. You may not make direct threats against an individual on campus. 

USC is committed to free speech that promotes a learning environment inside and outside the classroom. On such a large and diverse campus, USC students should expect to encounter a variety of ideas and opinions. These are great opportunities to broaden your understanding and participate in healthy debate.

You can read more about USC’s free expression policies on our website.

Forever to Thee,

 J. Rex Tolliver
Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.