UO Undergraduate Thomas Tullis got the video of a UOPD Officer making some extremely false statements about the First Amendment, to an extremely patient anti-abortion protester. The cop is very calm and professional about trying to keep the peace, but everything he says about UO and free speech is completely unconstitutional and utterly wrong. Kudos to UOPD Chief McDermed, who understands how badly her officers blew it. Story in the Emerald here:
UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed submitted a statement to The Emerald:
“As free speech is a cornerstone of a public university, we expect our officers to understand the relevant laws and police, and do their professional best to protect the speech rights of everyone on campus, while ensuring safe access to our facilities and public rights of way. All UOPD officers will be reminded of the relevant laws and policies, and their role in protecting the safe practice of free speech on our campus.”
Tullis’s entire video, with annotations – is well worth watching:
Since it seems the UOPD needs a reminder about why we have police, UO’s Free Speech policy is here. We’re a University. We like free speech. Free speech that makes us uncomfortable is the most important kind of speech, we like it the best, and we pay our police to protect it the most:
Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech
The University of Oregon values and supports free and open inquiry. The commitment to free speech and freedom of inquiry described in this policy extends to all members of the UO community: Faculty, staff, and students. It also extends to all others who visit or participate in activities held on the UO campus.
Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to this community. Further, as a public institution, the University will sustain a higher and more open standard for freedom of inquiry and free speech than may be expected or preferred in private settings.
Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or “just plain wrong” cannot be grounds for its suppression.
The University supports free speech with vigor, including the right of presenters to offer opinion, the right of the audience to hear what is presented, and the right of protesters to engage with speakers in order to challenge ideas, so long as the protest does not disrupt or stifle the free exchange of ideas. It is the responsibility of speakers, listeners and all members of our community to respect others and to promote a culture of mutual inquiry throughout the University community.