The policy, which was posted on the University Policies website May 13, came as a result of “frequent interest” from Brown community members in public statements made by administrative and academic units on national and global events, according to the announcement. The process of establishing this policy began in January 2021 and involved discussions with Brown’s institute and center directors, as well as academic chairs.
The policy defines public statements as any message “purporting to be on behalf of the University, one of its schools, academic units or administrative units and distributed, disseminated, posted online or otherwise shared via mass distribution with the public” that provides commentary on “issues external to” Brown. The policy does not apply to messages about academic or administrative activities, initiatives and resources.
The new guidelines in the policy are meant to ensure that public statements made by academic units or faculty represent the members of the groups issuing the statement, the announcement said. The policy also specifies a process for administrators and deans to review public statements.
According to the policy, the University, academic units and individuals speaking on behalf of Brown are prohibited from issuing public statements that promote, endorse or oppose candidates for government offices. The policy also prohibits statements that threaten, harass, discriminate, defame, release private or confidential information, violate the rights of an individual or an organization to its intellectual property or do not align with the University Code of Conduct.
Additionally, the policy adds that the University itself “may issue a public statement on political, social or policy issues or matters of individual rights, when such a statement is aligned with the University’s identity as a learning and research community” and meets certain criteria listed on the policy, such as in the case that the external issue or current event affects Brown or the Brown community.