Message on values and protest

March 3, 2013

To:          University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff
From:      President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum

It has been a fundamental quality of the University of Chicago since its inception that we have an absolute commitment to open discourse and expression. Protest, when it does not interfere with the rights of others, is one legitimate expression of views, and as such the right to non-violent protest must be protected so as to not chill our environment of open discourse and inquiry.

Recently, there was a protest on campus that was an example of such legitimate expression.  However, we subsequently became aware that during this protest a member of the University of Chicago police was posing as a protestor. We view this action as totally antithetical to our values, and such activity, which is deeply problematic for discourse and mutual respect on campus, cannot be tolerated. We will appoint an external independent reviewer to investigate the precise facts of this incident, as part of taking action to ensure that such behavior does not happen again.

The environment of free expression on our campus, including the right to legitimate protest, is essential to our values and the nature of the University. It is incumbent upon all of us who are part of this extraordinary University community, and very specifically incumbent upon the president and provost, to protect these values and our legacy of commitment to free expression, discourse, and inquiry.