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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW System reaffirms its commitment to free speech

Resolution was discussed roughly 13 minutes before the Board unanimously reaffirmed support
Marissa Haegele

In light of the Campus Free Speech Act passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly in late June, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted unanimously for a resolution that seeks to protect freedom of expression on UW campuses.

Resolution 10600 was introduced by the Board in December 2015. In the resolution, the Board maintained that it is not the place of any UW System school to “shield individuals from ideas and opinions they, or others, find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

The Board of Regents unanimously reaffirmed support for the resolution Friday after discussing it for roughly 13 minutes.


Similarly, CFSA, introduced by Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, in April and passed in late June, serves as a way to protect free speech in UW System schools by allowing guest speakers who come on campus to speak without disruption.

CFSA also doesn’t allow for expression which is illegal, defaming, threatening or harassing. An expression which invades one’s privacy or confidentiality, or that infringes upon the functionality of the university will also not be tolerated.

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The motion to reaffirm the board’s resolution was introduced by the Vice President of the Board of Regents, Drew Petersen. In his remarks, he said the resolution was “concise and direct.”

“[The resolution] is not punitive in scope,” Petersen said. “It is rather a guidepost for our campuses to be alert, to honor opposing views, and to promote a civil discourse environment.”

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Several other board members also expressed their support for the bill.

Regent Jose Delgado said UW has “survived” what he described as an “attack on freedom of speech,” and believes the implementation of the resolution will de-escalate further infringements on free speech.

Regents Tracey Klein and Robert Atwell recalled their own personal experiences and their gratefulness for collegiate atmospheres that encouraged and welcomed free expression.

“As a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I think back on my days on campus sitting around the Rathskeller batting around ideas and talking freely and arguing in a spirit of civil discourse,” Klein said. “So I’m here to speak in support of this resolution.”

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Regent Eve Hall was the only Board member who expressed any reservation in their support for the resolution.

Hall said she supported the resolution, but in the belief the campus climates will remain safe, so no matter what opinions are shared, people will feel “safe and secure on the campuses.”

Unlike Friday’s meeting, the issue of free speech policies on UW System campuses was contested for five hours when CFSA was passed through the Wisconsin State Assembly in a 61 to 36 vote late June.

The Assembly bill passed with total opposition from Wisconsin Democrats, many of whom called it “ambiguous” and “too broad.”


Correction: A previous version of this article suggested the UW System backed the Campus Free Speech Act, which was introduced in the state Legislature. This article has been updated to clarify the fact that the UW System voted to approve Resolution 10600, which reaffirms the system’s commitment to free speech. The Badger Herald regrets this error.

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