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Macalester Supports Free Expression

In light of recent events at other colleges and universities around the country where peaceful protest by students has been met with intervention by law enforcement, I want to reiterate the points I made in a statement released by email on March 6 and posted on the President’s Messages page: “At Macalester, we believe in the importance of free expression, and we support students who express themselves through non-violent demonstrations…Students who protest peacefully will not be punished by the college for doing so; employees who state their support for student protesters will not be punished for doing so.”

This is a community that values and appreciates dialogue—including dissent and disagreement. While conflict can be uncomfortable, it is to be expected when bringing together people from many different backgrounds and belief systems to learn and work in community. There are multiple initiatives on campus to provide tools for effective engagement on challenging topics.  

In addition to dialogue, we value constructive action to create a more just and peaceful world. To this end, when presented with proposals for ways the college might officially address the violence in Gaza, I constituted a Social Responsibility Committee (per campus Guidelines) to study the proposals and advise me on next steps. That committee membership (announced in the Mac Daily on April 15) includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni. They have begun meeting and we will share their report with the whole community once it is completed (you can see an example from the most recent SRC work product here).

As we approach the end of the semester, I appreciate the great care members of this community are showing each other at this very difficult time. If there are questions or concerns about how the campus handles freedom of expression, I welcome further conversation on this topic. Please reach out to me directly.

April 25, 2024