UCSD Vice Chancellors Reaffirm Legality of Hate Speech in Campus-wide Email

UC San Diego’s Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez and Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Becky Petitt released a joint statement via email last Friday reaffirming their defense of everyone’s right to free speech, including hate speech.

“‘Hate speech’ by its nature is meant to offend,” they stated in the email. “However, it is still protected by the First Amendment. This is why we encourage and promote civility and respect in every exchange. We strongly urge all UC San Diego students, faculty and staff to be guided by respect as we debate the issues of our complex world.”

The vice chancellors also explained in the email, which was sent to all UCSD students with the subject line “An important message about civility at UC San Diego,” why the First Amendment rights are critical to the UCSD community.

“Freedom of speech and expression are essential aspects of public universities as they lend themselves to intellectual inquiry and debate, and help members of our community define their own points of view,” the email stated. “Diverse points of view on social and political concerns often intensify debate and can develop into a more fervent form of give and take, with opposing points of view, positions and ideologies that can offend or create feelings of discomfort.”

Gonzalez and Petitt also provided a link to UCSD’s guidelines and policies regarding freedom of expression. They also listed a number of resources available to students, including Counseling and Psychological Services, campus police and UCSD’s ReportBias website at which students can report “bias incidents” to the Office for Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.

The email follows a month in which anti-immigrant statements were found written in chalk around campus, and students protested the statements at the Million Student March and the UCSD #ChalkBack event.