As a community of scholars, Emory University is committed to an environment where open expression of ideas is valued, promoted, and encouraged. Recognizing that the educational process of our institution requires diverse forms of open expression – including freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, activism, and assembly – the university affirms the rights of members of the community to assemble and demonstrate peaceably within the limits of this policy. The university must simultaneously maintain the right of community members to pursue their day-to-day activities and to be protected from physical injury or property damage. The Respect for Open Expression Policy was therefore implemented in 2013 to affirm Emory’s unwavering commitment to open expression, while acknowledging the challenges and tensions these actions could create in an ever-changing community.

Open Expression Observers Program

As a community of scholars, Emory University is committed to an environment where open expression of ideas is valued, promoted, and encouraged. Recognizing that the educational process of our institution requires diverse forms of open expression – including freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, activism, and assembly – the university affirms the rights of members of the community to assemble and demonstrate peaceably within the limits of this policy. The university must simultaneously maintain the right of community members to pursue their day-to-day activities and to be protected from physical injury or property damage. The Respect for Open Expression Policy was therefore implemented in 2013 to affirm Emory’s unwavering commitment to open expression while acknowledging the challenges and tensions these actions could create in an ever-changing community.

Open Expression Observers are charged by the vice president and dean for Campus Life to:

  • Protect the rights of the community members to express their opinions in non-disruptive ways
  • Serve as resources to community members regarding the policy and policy violations
  • Act as liaisons between community members and Emory Police and/or university administrators
  • Protect the right of community members to pursue their day-to-day activities
  • Provide information on how to avoid violating the Policy.

To request an observer at your event, please fill out this form. For urgent requests, contact the Open Expression Observer coordinator, Michael Shutt, at mshutt@emory.edu or 404.727.2136. On the Oxford Campus, contact Michele Hempfling at michele.hempfling@emory.edu or 770.784.8383.

Open Expression Observers are members of the university community who:

  • Hold a faculty or staff appointment
  • Represent all university units and schools
  • Promote the ideals of open expression in the Emory community

Members of the community who are selected as Open Expression Observers must:

  • Commit to serving as an Open Expression Observer for two years
  • Be able to observe meetings, events, and/or protests whenever they may occur (e.g. evenings, weekends, workweek)
  • Be trained by Emory Campus Life

To apply to be an Open Expression Observer, please fill out this application. For questions about serving in this role, contact the Open Expression Observer coordinator, Michael Shutt, at mshutt@emory.edu or 404.727.2136. On the Oxford Campus, contact Michele Hempfling at michele.hempfling@emory.edu or 770.784.8383.

University Senate Committee for Open Expression

The University Senate, subject to the powers vested in the president of the university and the board of trustees, has the function and jurisdiction to review any change in existing policies or the establishment of new policies relating to matters of general university interest. To that end, it established the University Senate Committee for Open Expression.

Members of the University Senate Committee for Open Expression are appointed by the University Senate to:

  • Investigate alleged infringements of the rights of community members concerning speech, debate, open expression, protest, dissent, and other related matters between all members of the community
  • Provide education and training to the community about issues of speech, debate, open expression, protest, dissent, and other related matters
  • Provide resources and referrals to appropriate campus colleagues, as necessary
  • Regularly review this policy, its applicability, and recommend changes to the University Senate as necessary
  • Report annually on the status of the committee’s work for presentation to the University Senate and made available to the community
  • Engage in other responsibilities as necessary to implement this policy and its principles.

For more information, click here. If you are seeking guidance regarding the policy and your event, meeting, or protest, email openexpression@emory.edu. To file a concern regarding a possible violation of the policy with the committee, fill out this form.

The University Senate Committee for Open Expression is made up of:

  • Four faculty members
  • Three staff members
  • Five student members (at least two undergraduate students and two graduate/professional students representing different academic divisions of the institution)
  • One member of the Student Government Association’s Constitutional Council
  • One representative from Emory Campus Life

Emory University Posting Guidelines

Emory University’s posting guidelines complement the university’s Respect for Open Expression Policy while addressing sustainability, maintenance, and safety guidelines. Note that an individual’s counter-speech may not deface or materially change the meaning of another community member’s previous expression of speech. These guidelines apply to all individuals and groups at Emory.

History

As outlined by the 2011 Taskforce on Dissent, Protest & Community Report, the University Senate charged a task force in October 2012 to review and rewrite the Respect for Open Expression Policy. A revised policy was presented to the University Senate in October 2013 for ratification and the policy revisions passed the Senate unanimously.