December 10, 2015
The BGSU Administration and the BGSU Faculty Association are aware that several faculty members have been mentioned in communications by external groups regarding recent Ohio legislative measures. In addition, we are also aware of allegations that several faculty may have violated University policy regarding use of the BGSU email system. We address each of these items in turn below.
First, the University and the BGSU-FA affirm the rights of BGSU faculty as private citizens to express personal viewpoints. Our faculty members – and students and staff – are afforded the same First Amendment right as every citizen, including those from outside the University who have expressed very different opinions. In addition, as educational professionals, faculty have a right to openly express views on all relevant issues, especially those that raise legitimate concerns about any potential impact on the University’s learning environment.
Second, this is also an opportunity to remind all members of the University community that, as a state university, we are required to comply with the Ohio Revised Code and University policies developed to conform to state law. For example, BGSU’s policy on Contact with State/Federal Legislators and Governmental Agencies (Policy 3341-5-8) provides guidance when faculty and students contact state and federal officials for personal purposes. Similarly, records of all public institutions, including those of our elected officials, can be publicly accessed through “sunshine laws” and the filing of a Public Records Request (ORC 149.43). All of us should be aware of this in our use of electronic communication, including the University email system. It is there that we may exchange ideas, express opinions, educate and inform each other, and sometimes disagree.
Every means possible will be taken to ensure the safety and security of the campus community, and the right to free speech and the free exchange of ideas will be upheld. Both the University Administration and the BGSU-FA are committed to this position.
BGSU Faculty Association