Ensuring Safety and Free Expression on our Campus

Freedom of expression is a core University value, and upholding the principles of civic debate and discourse is a collective responsibility.

October 11, 2023

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

At this challenging time, when so many in our community are affected deeply by global events, I write to remind everyone that freedom of expression is a core University value and it is our collective responsibility to uphold the principles of civic debate and discourse. Our priority is ensuring a safe community and workplace in which we can learn, live, work and, importantly, express ourselves. All of us have a role to play in maintaining this safety and a sense of community.

While Public Safety’s function is to maintain campus security, we are all guided by the University’s Rules of Conduct to cultivate a safe and respectful academic environment where we can openly exchange ideas across a full spectrum of viewpoints. For those who choose to engage in demonstrations or protests, I am sharing the Rules of University Conduct to assist in planning, including a quick guide here. 

We know from experience that during times of conflict, debate can turn into hateful rhetoric and even harassment. We have also learned over the years about the value of community and respectful human interactions to our individual and collective wellness, and that we have capacity for resilience in difficult times. I am grateful for our shared commitment to care for each other and to treat one another with civility and respect. 



Dennis A. Mitchell, DDS, MPH (he/him)
Interim Provost
Professor of Dental Medicine at CUMC