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Committee for Open Expression

Emory University is committed to an environment where open expression of ideas are valued, promoted, and encouraged. As a community of scholars, Emory affirms the freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, and assembly. As outlined by the 2011 Taskforce on Dissent, Protest & Community Report, the University Senate charged a task force in October 2012 to review and rewrite the Respect for Open Expression Policy.  The revised policy was presented to the University Senate in October 2013 for ratification and the policy revisions passed the Senate unanimously. This Policy reaffirms Emory’s unwavering commitment to courageous inquiry through open expression, dissent, and protest, while acknowledging the challenges and tensions these actions could create in an ever-changing community. Recognizing that the educational process of our institution necessarily includes diverse forms of open expression, the University affirms the rights of members of the community to assemble and demonstrate peaceably within the limits of this policy. Simultaneously, the University affirms the right of others to pursue their normal activities and to be protected from physical injury or property damage.  Some helpful frequently asked questions can be found on the Division of Campus Life’s website.



Committee Responsibilities and Membership

The University Senate Standing Committee for Open Expression is a working group of community members—faculty, staff, and students—who seek to promote and protect the rights of community members related to issues involving speech, debate, open expression, and protest. The Committee’s primary responsibilities involve educating and advising the Community about rights and responsibilities under this Policy and investigating alleged infringements of those rights through mediation and informal conflict resolution. Its additional responsibilities include mediating when possible during campus incidents in order to prevent conflicts and violations of the Policy, advising administrative officials when requested, and interpreting the Policy at the request of any member of the University community.

To file a concern with the Committee for Open Expression, please contact the committee at

Contact the Committee Chair: Erica Lee

View the committee's report to the senate on short-term goals set at the first meeting.

View the 2015-2016 commmittee roster [Approved 9/22/2015]. 

Open Expression Observers

The Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life (DCL) has ultimate responsibility for protecting and maintaining the right of open expression and for enforcing the Policy. When the DCL chooses to delegate that responsibility, the appointed delegates then have the full authority to act in the name of the DCL under the Policy. These delegates are trained staff or faculty who will serve as Open Expression Observers to help protect open expression and the rights of all parties involved. As part of the responsibilities for enforcing the Policy, the DCL may send a spectator, known as an Open Expression Observer, to meetings or protests where vigorous debate may be expected. Often, the Committee will also send a member to serve in an advisory capacity to the Observer. The Observer’s role is to protect the rights of the meeting or protest participants to express their opinions in non-disruptive ways, to educate all present on the Policy and how to refrain from violating the Policy, and to protect the rights of other members of the University community to conduct reasonable business.

Some helpful links related to the Open Expression Observers: