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Principia's Free Speech Policy

This free speech policy is grounded in policies 2, 21, 22 as well as 1, 6, 9, and 16 as found in Education at The Principia by Mary Kimball Morgan.

In accordance with policy 21--which states: Any organized activity associated with The Principia and carried on in the interests of The Principia shall exist only as it is authorized by The Principia Corporation--Principia oversees messages presented during school endorsed activities, such as convocation or baccalaureate. Principia does not shy away from engagement with controversial issues, but does expect the community to be sensitive to time, place and propriety.

Community members should respect Principia’s Purpose and do their part to help foster an environment of spiritual growth in accordance with the teachings and practices of Christian Science. Principia shall strive to be an environment of thoughtfulness and moral courage, in accordance with policy 6, which states: The Principia shall dedicate its service to the task of training its students to think--and to think clearly, vigorously, fearlessly, tolerantly, unselfishly. The ability to gather and weigh evidence and to form conclusions that are free from personal influence or selfish considerations is essential to the formulation of sound judgment and to the exercise of constructive citizenship in a democracy. The Principia shall encourage its faculty, staff, and student body to learn by practice and experience, to test their thinking by reference to Divine Law as given in the Bible and as interpreted in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy.

The ideals and spiritual integrity of Principia are stead fast and immutable; these are made evident through the structure of the institution, which is fluid and responsive, while still resting on Principia’s ideals and integrity. Therefore, Principia, to the greatest extent possible, will not restrict the freedom of speech. Libelous or slanderous statements are not protected speech. It is important in a small community that community members be able to have civil discourse with compassion, respect, and maturity. Community members should strive to propagate constructive discourse rather than destructive argumentation. In order to foster the best possible environment for both strong moral structures and robust discourse, guidelines for responsible free speech have been outlined below.

Principles for Responsible Speech at Principia:

  • Spiritual Foundation – All discourse should have a spiritual foundation, and metaphysical comments should always be welcome. However, in accordance with the Church Manual, community members “shall not debate on Christian Science in public debating assemblies” (p. 50).
  • Tone – The spirit of speech should be truth-seeking, selfless, courageous, and courteous.
  • Balance – All sides of controversial issues should be welcome for fair treatment/presentation.
  • Accountability – Fair warning should be provided before potentially offensive content is presented to the community as well as contact information for criticism or concerns. Community members should submit a proposal for approval to the Office of Student Life before presenting to the community gratuitous: violence, drinking, drug use, or sexual activity.
  • Mediation – Large discussions or debates should be moderated. Moderators should remain neutral and attempt to resolve any miscommunication. All community members involved in a discussion or debate should help to maintain a courteous and civil discussion. For example, if discourse or debate becomes hurtful and disorganized, anyone present may ask that a period of silence be taken. If after such an interval the discussion is unable to be continued civilly, it could be recommended that another meeting take place for the express purpose of finding reconciliation.

Approved by Presidential Board 4/19/2009