Free Speech at the University of New Mexico

Statement by President Garnett S. Stokes

One of our foundational responsibilities as a public research institution is a commitment to an environment where one can grow, express, and be exposed to contrasting, even disagreeable, perspectives and points of view. Even when opinions collide, critical thinking demands that we strive to grow, educate, and improve ourselves from those experiences. That is what I ask and expect us to aspire to as a University and as a community. 

For generations, The University of New Mexico has upheld its commitment to the principles of free speech and has valued its role as a public square for debate and a place to test and challenge competing viewpoints and opinions. We encourage the free and open consideration and questioning of opposing ideas. But please keep in mind that providing an open forum in no way signals endorsement of the content of every speech, idea, or opinion. 

Nearly a century ago, Justice Louis Brandeis reasoned that “if there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” Let us focus our attention and energies on the underlying causes of what offends or concerns us most with more and better speech. I appreciate your continued commitment to making our university a place where competing points of view can be respectfully, and safely, discussed and debated.

UNM Speech Expectations

The University of New Mexico is a community in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression are respected and sustained. The University is committed to supporting the exercise of constitutionally protected expression in University-controlled facilities and property while maintaining a safe atmosphere free from disruption. 

The University has established requirements for use of its facilities and property in order to focus on its mission, provide a safe environment, and preserve the aesthetics of the Grounds.

The use of University facilities and property must:

  • not impede student education, academic activities, research, patient care, scheduled events, University functions, residences, or the faculty/staff work environment
  • be safe for participants and not generate security issues
  • and preserve the integrity and aesthetics of the University’s property.

Freedom of speech and expression are not without limits. University policies regarding the time, place, and manner of speech and of expression ensure that the University can carry on its ordinary activities. The University may also restrict speech or expression that breaks the law, violates University policies or codes of conduct, or is otherwise directly incompatible with the safety of the community or the functioning of the University.

Freedom of speech is a hallmark of any public university. UNM is committed to the sharing of different ideas and points of view. At times, you’ll hear things you don’t agree with or that you find offensive. You have a choice. You can choose to engage. You can choose to debate. You can choose to walk away.