Letter Regarding Intellectual Freedom

September 17, 2017

To the Vassar Community,

At times, faculty and students are maligned because of views they have expressed on social media and in other communications channels. Facebook, Twitter, and other public platforms can spread these statements quickly. I consider it important to restate my views on intellectual freedom, as these issues can influence the learning environment at Vassar. 

Faculty are free to pursue their scholarly work; they are encouraged to do so and respected by us for it. Students are similarly encouraged to explore any and all issues and speak out about them. Those who disagree with their views are equally free to take issue with them; however, in my role as President, I condemn any expressions that incite violence or lawlessness, and stand behind the right of all members of the community to speak out on issues of importance to them.

Intellectual freedom is at the heart of our community. As the Vassar College Faculty Handbook states:

“Vassar is dedicated to freedom of inquiry in the pursuit of truth and is vigilant in defending the right of individuals to free speech. This may include the introduction and discussion of controversial and challenging matters both within and beyond the classroom.”

The Handbook further states that the College also aspires to be “...a community dedicated to the cultivation of an atmosphere in which all of its members may live and work free from intolerance, disrespect, or harassment.”

At Vassar, a place where community matters, I implore us to uphold these values and communicate in ways that promote the well-being and education of all.

Thank you,

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President

Poughkeepsie, NY 12604