Freedom of Expression

Pursuit of truth in all its forms and the betterment of society.

Women

Creighton University strives to be a community that is dedicated to the pursuit of truth in all its forms and to the betterment of society. As a University, Creighton is committed to its role as an academic institution in which the widest possible freedom of expression and openness to diverse ideas should be responsibly presented and examined. It is because of these commitments that we embrace freedom of thought and expression. Essential elements in the Ignatian tradition emphasize active dialogue and the innate dignity of each member of our community.

“Contemporary student activism creates both challenges and opportunities on college campuses. The issues that stimulate student activism vary widely as organizers target immigration bans, sexual assault, tuition increases, discrimination, investment in fossil fuels, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and a host of other concerns. Protests can be large or small, global or local, in person or online, single or multi issue.” (Harrison & Mather, 2017)

What is activism?

Activism is defined as “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.” (Merriam-Webster, 2020) Creighton’s mission and values point us to be men and women for and with others, to be agents of change, and strive towards the betterment of society. At times, the Creighton community might activate around a broad range of social issues. Activism can take many forms including on-campus demonstrations, participating in phone banks, writing letters to legislators, or other actions of being in solidarity with a community.

What is Creighton’s policy regarding Freedom of Expression and Active Dialogue Policy?

Updated in February 2020, the Freedom of Expression and Active Dialogue Policy provides guidance in reconciling possible or perceived conflicts between Creighton’s commitments as a Jesuit, Catholic institution and its commitments as a university when events, activities and demonstrations are hosted, sponsored, or funded by any Creighton University entity, while ensuring the orderly functioning of the University and a safe learning environment.

A brief overview of the procedure as it related to students and student clubs/organizations is outlined below. The full policy and procedure can be found here.

The following steps must be completed when it is likely that a promoted event will be designated a controversial event:

  • In the case a promoted event requires review by the Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee, the student club/organization should give advanced notice to staff in the Student Leadership and Involvement Center.  (It is preferred 30 or more days in advance to allow an informed judgement as to whether or not to designate the promoted event a controversial event and allow sufficient time to build an event support plan.)
  • The student club/organization must provide an event proposal using the event proposal template and include all relevant and requested information. This includes but is not limited to background information on the speaker or performer, format of the event, event plan, execution details, and anticipated audience.
  • The Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee will review all submitted information and determine whether to designate a promoted event as a controversial event.
  • The Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee determines whether to designate a promoted event as a controversial event for student clubs/organizations.
    • If designated a controversial event the Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee will determine if the controversial event is approved and under what circumstances (including but not limited to the format of the event) the controversial event may proceed.
      • The organizer or their designee will include in their opening/introductory remarks the Freedom of Expression and Active Dialogue Policy’s purpose, as well as the no connoted endorsement statement in their entirety. The organizer may be required to include the no connoted endorsement statement in advertisements for the event.
      • Once a controversial event proposal has been approved the by the Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee, any alterations to the promoted event’s proposal must be submitted for review and approval prior to the event.
    • If the Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee does not allow an event to proceed or otherwise limits how the event may proceed, the event organizer may appeal that decision to the President or the President’s designee. The decision of the President or the President’s designee is final.

What should I consider when planning an On-Campus Demonstration?

Registration of Demonstration

  • The University also acknowledges the rights of members to express their views by way of individual or collective activity. For reason of general information, assistance, and courtesy, as well as good order, the University requires that those contemplating demonstrations and similar activity make their intentions known in advance to the Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee for approval. A request to host a Demonstration can be submitted here. It is important to engage with the Division of Student Life’s Assistant Director for Programming and Student Organizations, so the demonstration is registered and supported.
     

Timeline

  • Recognizing the university policy calls for 30 days advance notice is required, the university also recognizes the spontaneous nature of demonstrations. In order to best support you and your planning team, we suggest you submit your Request for a Demonstration at least two business days in advance.
     

Discernment and Action

  • Our Catholic, Jesuit mission calls us to reflect and discern where we are called to action. This is an ongoing cycle to engage in and allows event organizers to be focused on planning efforts. Reflecting, discerning, acting, and debriefing are all important parts of considering whether a demonstration is right for your group.
     

Safety

  • It is important to consider safety when planning the demonstration. The Vice Provost for Student Life or the Vice Provost’s designee will assist students in crafting a safety plan for the demonstration. However, it’s also important that students consider rights and responsibilities established for those participating in the demonstration.
  • Student Handbook
    • The Student Handbook provides additional guidance regarding Group Activity/Demonstrations on page 75. It is important to note that all policies and procedures outlined in the Student Handbook would also be applicable and enforced during the demonstration. Students should be knowledgeable about policies while planning the demonstration.

How do I host a successful event?

The staff in the Student Leadership and Involvement Center (SLIC) are available to help navigate important event logistics. The SLIC can provide individualized assistance and training to help with the event. Please stop by Skutt Student Center 120 during normal business hours or email slic [at] creighton [dot] edu for additional assistance.

The following online resources are available to assist students:

*see dropdowns below

What are campus resources that could help me with student activism?

What are some resources available for my wellness and the wellness of others?

Guide for Opening Remarks, Dialogue, and Q&A

Opening Statement 

“Creighton University strives to be a community that is dedicated to the pursuit of truth in all its forms and to the betterment of society. It is because of these commitments that we embrace freedom of thought and expression. Essential elements in the Ignatian tradition offer emphases on encouragement of active dialogue and on the innate dignity of each member of our community. 

As Catholic, Creighton is committed to identification with a specific religious tradition and all of its essential values, likewise as a University, Creighton University is committed to its role as an academic institution in which the widest possible freedom of expression and openness to diverse ideas should be responsibly presented and examined, including critical examination of ideas and perspectives which may be or may appear to be incompatible with its Catholic tradition and mission.  

While the University respects the right of individual students and student organizations to express their ideas, it is understood that such expressions or views remain those of the individuals or organizations and are not to be construed as necessarily reflecting University opinion or as an endorsement by the University.” 

Ground Rules for Dialogue 

“As a University grounded in the Ignatian tradition, we believe and respect the innate dignity of each person. As such, we expect our attendees to respect the speaker and our speaker to respect the attendees.  For today’s event hosted by [insert club/organization name], we have established the following ground rules for dialogue: 

  • Listen respectfully, without interrupting 
  • No yelling/stomping during when someone else is speaking 
  • No use of name-calling, profanities, or racial slurs when addressing the audience or the speaker 
  • Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks – focus on ideas 

In order to keep the event safe for all who are in attendance: 

  • We would like to discuss the “Evacuation Plan” in the event it is needed 
  • [Insert information about evacuation plan] 
  • The hosts of this event reserve the right to remove anyone, at any time, for any reason.” 
     

Q&A Facilitation

  • Before the Event 
    • Hold a briefing session before the event 
      • Run through an overview of the event – from introductions, to presentation, to Q&A, etc.  
      • Establish with the speaker and hosts any time limits or rules before the event: 
        • How many questions per person? 
        • Is there a time limit on the question or response? 
    • Leave an appropriate amount of time 
      • Determine how much time your group is wanting to allocate  
      • Things to consider, which could influence the amount of time: 
        • Is there more than one presenter? 
        • Is there a panel? 
    • Identify a moderator 
      • Should be a student leader from the club/organization  
      • Serve to connect the audience with whomever is answering the questions 
        • They monitor questions, time, and if discussion is in violation of the established ground rules  
        • If so, they would need to end the discussion 
        • Ensure the right tools/equipment is available 
    • Determine how questions will be asked 
      • Do you need to request a microphone? 
      • Are questions going to be anonymous? Do you need paper, pens, and a way to collect the questions? 
         
  • During the Event 
    • Stick to the time limit 
      • Keep to the time limit that was previously set 
      • If there are questions remaining, consider finding an alternate way to get them answered – 1:1 discussion with the presenter, online/email, etc 
    • Consider having a few prepared questions 
      • Think ahead of time to some questions that the moderator or another member from the hosting group/organization to begin the Q&A portion 
    • Moderate the discussion 
      • Ensure that the speaker and attendees are following the established ground rules 
      • Avoid indulging in debates, but allow for questions and discussion for the presenter 
      • If the discussion is escalating, consider stopping the conversation and allow for a time to continue the conversation later