Civility 10/24/16

George Mason University is a public institution that is committed to freedom of expression and the creation of more just and inclusive communities. The University is proud to support individuals’ rights to express their views. We believe that learning is best achieved through critical thinking and open dialogue.

We are mindful that certain topics elicit stronger emotional responses than others, especially when those participating in the conversations have contrasting opinions or seek to provoke. It is our expectation that members of our community engage respectfully in such dialogue, even when what is heard may seem offensive or distasteful. Several recent incidents on the Johnson Center North Plaza have involved hostile behavior directed at guests to the campus, including physical confrontations. Such displays of incivility undermine the scholarly mission of our university, and could carry significant legal and disciplinary consequences.

Our campus community, like others, will continue to be challenged by activities that some may view as personally distasteful or offensive. However, unlike many communities, we have the opportunity here at Mason to set an example and lead. I ask that you please remain respectful of opposing viewpoints and not engage in acts of incivility. You most certainly can counter speech you are offended by with your own speech. You can counter activities that are disagreeable to you with your own activities. You can choose to engage with those who have opposing viewpoints or you can walk away. Although the University supports your right to express discontent in a lawful manner, it is also obligated to uphold the rights of those who visit our campus to engage in constitutionally protected activities. Therefore, your cooperation is appreciated as the University continues to serve as a venue for engaging dialogues and freedom of expression.

Rose Pascarell
Vice President for University Life

Posted in Letter from VP.