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Free Speech at Bridgewater

BSU’s Commitment to Free Speech and Academic Freedom

Bridgewater State University is committed to an environment of teaching and learning that stimulates critical thinking, demands the rigorous pursuit of new knowledge and deeper understanding, cultivates meaningful and diverse interpersonal relationships, fosters global citizenship, and strives to transform lives and improve the human condition.

It is BSU’s vision that all members of the community readily embrace the University’s values of fairness, respect, dignity and free expression, causing them to think beyond the self and to be engaged in the advancement of the greater good. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.

A student discusses his research with two others at the STARS symposium

Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. BSU is legally and ethically bound to respect academic freedom. Specifically, academic freedom is understood as the right of scholars in institutions of higher education freely to study, discuss, investigate, teach, exhibit, perform and publish. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student in learning. The scholar is entitled to full freedom in research and in the exhibition, performance and publication of the results of their research, and to full freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, most specifically in the selection of their course materials and in the selection of texts. The scholar is entitled to discuss controversial issues.

Professor Meghan Murphy works with a student in a sociology class

The college or university teacher or librarian is a citizen and a member of a learned profession affiliated with an educational institution. When they speak, write, or express themself in any other fashion as a citizen, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. They should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others. They respect the free inquiry of their associates and avoid interference in their work.

As a state institution, BSU is also bound to the Massachusetts Constitution, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which guarantee freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, and equal protection.

Past Speakers

Dr. Erec Smith

“Anti-Racist Education is Anti-Everything Except Racism”

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 | 12:15-1:45 p.m. | Moakley Auditorium

Dr. Erec Smith
Associate Professor of Rhetoric, York College of Pennsylvania

Watch the video of this event »

Euegene Volokh

“Free Speech in Higher Education”

Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023 | 12:30 p.m. | Moakley Auditorium

Eugene Volokh
Professor of Law, UCLA; noted First Amendment expert

Watch the video of this event »

Lech Walesa

“Dialogues in Democracy”

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023 | 7 p.m. | Rondileau Student Union Auditorium

Lech Wałęsa
President of Poland; Nobel Laureate & Global Leader

Watch the video of this event »

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, President Lech Wałęsa came to Bridgewater State University. A pro-democracy dissident and union organizer, Wałęsa answered questions from about 20 students before giving a talk to more than 1,000 people. Read more about Wałęsa's visit »


Jacob Mchangama

“Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media”

Sept. 20, 2022

Jacob Mchangama
Executive Director of Justitia; 2016 Marshall Memorial Fellow
Watch Jacob Mchangama on YouTube »

Jacob Mchangama traces the legal, political, and cultural history of the idea of free speech. From the ancient Athenian orator Demosthenes and the ninth-century freethinker al-Rāzī, to the anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells and modern-day digital activists, Mchangama reveals how the free exchange of ideas underlies all intellectual achievement and has enabled the advancement of both freedom and equality worldwide. Yet the desire to restrict speech, too, is a constant, and he explores how even its champions can be led down this path when the rise of new and contrarian voices challenge power and privilege of all stripes.

The cover of Bridgewater Review Volume 40, Issue 2

Read Dr. Aeon J. Skoble’s Bridgewater Review article about a university’s role in education and seeking truth.

All issues of Bridgewater Review »

The covers of the books "All Boys Aren't Blue" and "Slaughterhouse Five"
According to the American Library Association, there were over 1,200 book challenges in 2022, representing 2,571 unique titles. Find out more about books from Maxwell Library’s catalog that have been banned or challenged in the United States.