proud moments in academia [an e-mail that just got sent to the student body]
One of the Diversity Committee's goals is to foster civil discourse within the Smith community. In order for students to be able to express themselves freely, we should all be made aware of our right to freedom of speech. To this end, we have compiled a list of important definitions and regulations pertaining to academic freedom at Smith. The following quotations are taken from the Smith College Civil Rights Policy and Grievance Procedures form, which can be found online at http://www.smith.edu/oid/programs.php.
The College's central purpose is "to foster the free access to knowledge". Therefore, Smith will protect freedom of speech "even when the ideas and values expressed are believed, by some or many, to be inimical to humane society". Merely disagreeing with someone then, does not imply libel or slander (both of which are NOT protected speech). In fact, Smith believes that "the remedy for ideas believed to be distasteful or offensive should be confrontation with other ideas and superior evidence, not administrative sanction."
In the event that a student would like to file a grievance, Smith has two options: informal and formal. Smith has a "preference for informal resolution". The first step is direct conversation with the person perpetuating the offense. If this is not possible or fruitful, students may discuss their complaints with:
• Dean of the College • Office of Student Affairs (inc. Dean of Student Affairs, Assoc. Dean for International Students and Student Affairs, & the Asst. Dean for Minority Students) • Class Deans • Faculty advisers • Department chairs • Associate Dean of the Faculty • College Chaplains • Dean of School for Social Work • Director of Institutional Diversity
If conversation with these offices is not sufficient, the student may request that the Director of Institutional Diversity "discuss the allegations informally with the person complained of." The formal steps that follow are outlined in the document available online.
Smith students should be reminded that "members of the Smith community may write about and discuss freely any subject of intellectual inquiry and shall not be subject to censorship, discipline, or intimidation. They are entitled to freedom in research and in the publication of results… they shall [also] be free from institutional censorship, discipline, or intimidation."
The Diversity Committee is dedicated to supporting the needs of all members of the Smith community, and is open to any questions or concerns. Please feel welcome to contact the Committee chair or the Committee member assigned to your house at any point during the year.