Free Speech Policy
Speech and expression, for the purposes of this policy, are understood to include speaking and writing, visual and auditory representations, and postings in online forums and social media.
The freedom to communicate, speak, inquire, question, and express oneself is a core value of Bard College as an academic and a civic institution. The College’s commitment to this value expresses, most importantly, its belief in the equality and dignity of all those who make up our community. It is a constitutive feature of our life together. It is how we can make intellectual discoveries, challenge intolerance, express our values, protest injustice, come to shared understandings, and demarcate essential differences.
Bard values the ability to address one another as equals, as colleagues and peers, and to treat each other as fellow creators of the space we inhabit together.
At Bard we are committed to listening and to respecting the rights of others to address us in turn, even or especially on matters of the most serious disagreement.
Speech or expressive conduct that employs force or the threat of force is prohibited, as is speech or expressive conduct that constitutes harassment, coercion, incitement to imminent violence, defamation of individuals, invasions of protected rights to privacy or confidentiality, the destruction of property or documents, and acts threatening or causing physical harm. Such speech or expressive conduct may, in addition to violating this Free Speech Policy, violate another Bard College policy, such as the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy or the Harassment, Discrimination and Stalking Policy.
Further, while protest and dissent may accompany the pursuit of knowledge and community life, deliberate conduct that egregiously interferes with or prevents another’s speech or expression (via physical or visual obstruction, for instance) particularly in the regular academic and intellectual pursuits of the College, is prohibited.
Free speech can involve advocating ideas and using expressions that are marginal, unpopular, controversial, untrue, subversive, or offensive. Likewise it can involve challenging and opposing those ideas and expressions. While not necessarily constituting a violation of this or other Bard College policies, speech or expression that is disrespectful, intolerant, bigoted, or hateful is to be condemned. The College and members of the community may voice their rejection of such expressions through private or public condemnation, the organization of forums, and calls for more speech and open debate. However, such condemnation is subject to this and other applicable Bard College policies and should not violate them.
Violations of this Policy Violations of this policy will be resolved through the disciplinary procedures outlined in the Discipline or Dismissal of Students and Student Judiciary Board sections of the Student Handbook and in the Constitution of the Bard College Student Association. Violations of this policy are also subject to the same sanctions as discussed in the Student Handbook Sanctions section. Students may file complaints regarding violations of this policy, in writing, with the Chair of the Student Judicial Board or the Dean of Students.
As stated above, speech or expressive conduct that violates this policy may also violate other Bard College policies. Such incidents will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Should speech or expressive conduct violate more than one policy, Bard College may choose to consolidate the alleged violations (regardless of originating policy) and resolve them using only one disciplinary process. In that case, Bard College will select the disciplinary process to be utilized from among the disciplinary processes outlined in the violated policies; in certain cases, such as if speech or expressive conduct violates this policy and also constitutes sexual harassment as defined in Title IX, a particular disciplinary process may be required to be used. Possible sanctions, however, will be governed by the originating policy for the violation regardless of the disciplinary process chosen. Alternatively, Bard College may choose to divide the allegations based on the governing policy and address each policy’s violations separately and pursuant to the process outlined by that particular policy. In that case, the student may be subject to different disciplinary processes simultaneously.