Free Expression at Wellesley

April 4, 2017

Dear Wellesley community,
As we welcome our students back to campus, I want to share some thoughts about the role and meaning of free expression at Wellesley.

Freedom is central to our mission and, more broadly, to liberal arts education. Wellesley supports diverse opinions and the rights of all members of our community to voice their views. Active, open debate enriches and illuminates—it is fundamental to how we create new ways of seeing and thinking. 
Robust debate is also critical to the College’s process for addressing challenging issues—disagreement is a necessary part of that process, and something we should welcome rather than fear. The Freedom Project’s invitation to Laura Kipnis, the SAAFE students’ videotaped rebuttal, and the CERE faculty’s statement are all expressions of our commitment to active, open debate.
We must also recognize that for every outspoken voice, there are those who remain silent on the margins, in the classroom, in the dining halls, as well as at events with invited speakers. It is our responsibility to invite all our students to voice their views—to find their way into the debate. Each of us in the Wellesley community has a stake in expanding the dialogue. When our most difficult conversations include a range of perspectives based in fact and strengthened by respect, they become the very conversations that move us forward.
Paula A. Johnson