Free Speech and the Safety of EWU Campuses

A Message from President Mary Cullinan

Dear Campus Community:

This afternoon several protestors assembled in the mall of our Cheney campus to exercise their First Amendment rights. In response, a number of Eastern students expressed their right to free speech and counter-protested. Our students handled themselves well, and our ASEWU student body president, Key Baker, encouraged students not to escalate the situation.

A number of students have contacted my office to ask why individuals and groups can come onto our campus and freely express their opinions. WAC 172-141: Use of Outdoor Areas for First Amendment Activities makes clear that, while people are encouraged to provide advance notice, anyone may use our outdoor space to convene peacefully and lawfully.  

At Eastern Washington University, we are committed to being diverse and inclusive—and to upholding freedom of expression and First Amendment principles.

We are also deeply committed to the safety and security of all members of our campus community. I’m thankful that today the EWU campus police, as well as supporting officers from Cheney, Spokane, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, helped to ensure a safe environment.

I have asked our Student Affairs leadership to identify opportunities to engage students on approaches for assembling peacefully and expressing opinions in a lawful and respectful manner.

Today we saw one of the rights of our Constitution unfold in real time. Our students and campus community members exercised their right to speak freely and also supported one another.

It is events like these that test our commitments and values. I deeply appreciate all the work that our faculty, staff, and students do to ensure that our Eastern Washington University campuses are inclusive and safe places for us all to work and study.

Mary Cullinan

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