Aug 8, 2022

Dear Members of the MSU Denver Community:

I strongly believe that free expression and inquiry, which should flourish at universities, are key to maintaining a healthy civic society, and indeed our diverse democratic republic. From 2017-20, I had the honor of serving on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service — our mission was to inspire more Americans to engage in public service. The Commission’s report states:

The United States continues to be a radical experiment in inclusive representative democracy, unique in the history of the world. What makes it so radical and so exceptional is the combination of its ever evolving and expanding civil society together with the open and free discourse that fuels its political system. At its best, these characteristics enable the United States to confront or prevent crises and to seize opportunities by harnessing the power of diversity of thought, respectful debate, and collaboration focused on a common purpose.

It was in this spirit that I convened a task force with broad representation across our University community to create a Free Expression Statement. Our Free Expression Statement calls out the importance of free expression and inquiry to the University mission and community but makes clear that members of the MSU Denver community owe one another the basic respect of human beings engaged in a common or mutual endeavor. At the core of respectful dialogue is an outstanding liberal arts and sciences education, which we proudly provide at MSU Denver.

Our country’s history is not pure, and we have not been at our best lately when it comes to discourse. The country was founded on the backs of slaves, and only relatively recently in our history did we recognize and attempt to rectify the legacy of Jim Crow. There is still much more work to be done to realize the vision of a true multicultural representative democracy. And free speech and respectful dialogue is at the core of that work.

Free speech and inquiry protect us against dogmatism and groupthink, from both the left and the right, and allow a robust collision of ideas among our diverse population. I am also convinced that free expression and DEI can coexist. In fact, expression is more robust in a diverse community. To this point, our statement encourages members of the MSU Denver community to respond and to speak out clearly against speech that violates our principles and commitment to nurture a diverse, inclusive and safe learning community where all members are empowered to express themselves.

The Free Expression Statement received the support of key University stakeholders and was approved by our Board of Trustees. Thank you to General Counsel David Fine, who led this effort, and to all the Roadrunners who engaged in this inclusive process.


Janine Davidson, Ph.D.
President, MSU Denver

Free Speech and the Art of Democracy

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022 
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. 
CAVEA Theatre (Jordan Student Success Building 420) 

Free speech is foundational to a healthy democracy, where every person has a voice. But how far does that freedom extend? Explore the boundaries of this American ideal as expert panelists discuss and dissect the intricacies of expression on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, from 2:30–3:30 p.m. in the CAVEA Theater (JSSB 420).  

MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., convened a task force with broad representation across the University community to create our Free Expression Statement. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser will weigh in and provide insight from his leadership in similar conversations across the state along with Wayne Williams, former Colorado Secretary of State; Katia Campbell, Communication Studies Professor and Chair; and David Fine, General Counsel.