In support of diversity and free speech, while following RIT policies

Earlier this month, RIT proudly celebrated a new sculpture for social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a display for four cultural flags in the Student Alumni Union. We are proud to announce that the four cultural flags — the Haudenosaunee flag, the Black Lives Matter flag, the Rainbow or Pride flag, and the Sign Union Flag — were installed this week and are now permanently mounted.

RIT’s mission calls out our responsibility to create a culture where diversity, equity, and inclusion is woven into all that we do. RIT simultaneously supports freedom of speech and expression. The university upholds the rights of all members of the RIT Community to express their views freely and to peacefully and lawfully protest against actions and opinions with which they disagree. However, RIT recognizes that the right to free speech and expression is not absolute. It must be balanced against the university’s obligation to provide a secure and civil environment where students, faculty, and staff can freely exchange ideas and safely engage in deliberation, debate, and learning.

I am communicating on this subject now because of a recent incident involving flags displayed outdoors on our campus, which has created a rift, underscoring disagreements heading into the upcoming Presidential election. The incident caused me to review our Campus Life posting procedures related to flag and banner displays, which set rules for how approval is sought, where a flag may fly, and how long it may remain up. These rules are to be enforced without regard to the positions represented. In addition, RIT’s political and legislative activities policy prohibits use of RIT property or affiliation to endorse any candidate for public office, including distribution of statements for or against any candidate and flag displays for or against any candidate.

We will use this period of heightened awareness and sensitivity as an opportunity to further review our campus procedures regarding posting. In the meantime, I ask that we all strive to treat each other with utmost civility and respect, even when our viewpoints differ.

Sincerely yours,

David Munson, President

A sign language interpreted translation of this message is available.


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