Freedom of Expression Policy
Oct. 28, 2020

Dear Students,


Each Huskie is a valued individual with a voice and rights that include the freedom of expression. NIU is committed to freedom of expression and open discussion of issues that are of general interest, value and concern to our community. We are committed to creating space for all members of the university community to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.


You play an important role in upholding freedom of expression, and we want to ensure you understand the following: 


  • Northern Illinois University’s Freedom of Expression Policy is designed to reflect the freedoms granted to all of us under the First Amendment. It strives to ensure your right – and everyone else’s – to speak your mind.
  • The policy protects your right to express your opinions and beliefs, but it DOES NOT protect you from being exposed to beliefs and opinions different than your own.

As passionate as you will feel on a topic, another Huskie will likely feel the exact opposite. We each bring different perspectives and lived experiences, so disagreement is to be expected and respected.

  • Opposing views might even be contrary to widely held opinions and NIU’s values of civility, collegiality, diversity and inclusiveness, but our First Amendment protects virtually all speech, no matter how unpopular, offensive or distasteful.
  • There are some limits to freedom of expression. Two centuries of court cases have established that unprotected speech, including, but not limited to, threats, calls for violence, obscenity and false personal attacks (e.g., defamation) are not permitted under the First Amendment. Courts have narrowly defined if, when and how these types of expression may be used. 
  • The role of university administration is not to weigh in on varying perspectives or to silence Huskies, but rather to affirm the value of each individual and foster an environment in which differences can be explored, ideas challenged and society advanced.

As always, we encourage you to listen to understand, to respect one another and remember that, as Huskies, we are here to learn and positively contribute to society. For more information on NIU’s Freedom of Expression Policy, visit the Student Involvement website.

Forward Together,

Kelly Wesener Michael, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs
Chief Student Affairs Officer and Dean of Students

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