Statement on Discrimination and Academic Freedom

The following is a statement of policy as well as a statement of values. It is intended to help sustain a civil atmosphere of unfettered intellectual freedom at the College and to discourage discriminatory speech and actions by its members.

As an institution dedicated to learning and teaching, Carleton College is committed to the principle of free expression and exploration of ideas in an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect. The College therefore also embraces the related principle that all members of its community shall have access to its educational facilities, activities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, veteran status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, status with regard to public assistance, disability, or age. These principles guide the College’s relationships with individuals and should guide the interactions of all members of the community.

A possible breach of the foregoing principles may be brought to the attention of the appropriate College officer: the Vice President and Treasurer, Provost or Dean of Students, if the party responsible is, respectively, a staff member, faculty member, or student.

While the nature of an academic community is to provide a milieu for the expression, criticism and discussion (and for the tolerance) of the widest range of opinions, it does not provide a license for bigotry in the form of demeaning, discriminatory speech or actions. Thus, the presentation of a reasoned or evidenced claim about a societal group that offends members of that group is to be distinguished from a gratuitous denigrating claim about, or addressed to, an individual or group such as those enumerated above. The former is bona fide academic behavior while the latter may demean, degrade or victimize in a discriminatory manner and, if so, undermines the above principles.

Discriminatory speech and actions are especially abhorrent when they are made anonymously, for anonymity precludes the possibility of an exchange and exploration of ideas; moreover, such an anonymous message by the very nature of its delivery is a threat to the recipient. Discrimination by one person against another is also particularly abhorrent when the first person is in a position of power with respect to the second, whether in the academic, administrative, political, or social hierarchy on the campus.

Although this policy attempts to eliminate certain behavior and actions on the campus, Carleton cannot guarantee that the environment will always be comfortable for all the members of the community. Often, the educational process is disturbing and unsettling; when one’s ideas are under attack and one’s values are being challenged, the effect may be simultaneously painful and highly educational. Thus, behavior that is disturbing or unsettling to an individual or group is not necessarily discriminatory. In this regard, it is imperative that faculty and students be able to take controversial positions without fear, in accordance with the principle of academic freedom.

Students, faculty, and staff of Carleton College are asked to support this anti-discrimination policy through participation in discussions about it. The College will facilitate this by providing educational opportunities and forums for such discussions to take place and by making it possible for students, faculty, and staff to attend them. The policy will be distributed to all students, faculty, and staff members each year. The College will actively encourage the discussion of issues raised by the policy in appropriate classes, meetings, symposia, and college publications.

Last Revised: June 21, 1990

Adopted by the Board of Trustees June 21, 1990, upon recommendation of the College Council.

For: Faculty, Staff, Students

Last Reviewed: May 28, 2021

Maintained by: Human Resources