JMU News

Statement on political discourse from President Alger


Election seasons are always fraught with high emotions on all sides, perhaps never more so than now. In fact, we have seen recent statements in social media, for example, that go well beyond the bounds of respectful political discourse and that cast aspersions upon, and even wish ill, on people with whom one disagrees. Let's be clear: this sort of conduct is antithetical to the purposes of the university, and in no way represents the views of the institution.

We can and must also model how to engage in political and civic discourse in respectful and thoughtful ways, in keeping with our educational mission. As a public institution, we of course recognize our responsibility to protect freedom of expression, and our discourse can and should include vigorous debates about issues. It should not, however, devolve into personal attacks or conduct that makes anyone feel unsafe or unwelcome as part of our community. In addition, per JMU’s Policy 1121, the university’s encouragement of civic discourse is not an invitation to disrupt the safe and orderly operation of campus, threaten members of the university community, or incite violence, and individuals found to be creating an unsafe environment, for any member of our community, will be sanctioned appropriately.

Every student, faculty and staff member has a right to feel safe in our environment and to participate actively in it.

Jonathan Alger
President, James Madison University

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Published: Thursday, October 15, 2020

Last Updated: Friday, October 16, 2020

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