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Behind The Headlines: Susan Menning

Assistant Vice Chancellor, University Communications, Uci

May 19, 2007

Q: Do student groups have to get the university's approval before staging events, posting materials or inviting speakers to campus?

A: Student groups bringing speakers to campus must comply with university policies regarding time, place and manner, such as reserving space and obtaining permission for amplified sound. The university works closely with these student groups to ensure the safety of both the speakers and those attending the event.

Q: Who has authority to prevent something from being said or shown at a UC campus — if anyone has the authority?

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A: UC campuses cannot, do not and will not suppress speech based on its content. We are a public forum that is open to speakers who are brought in through proper channels and who adhere to our guidelines on time, place and manner. Speech protected by the rule of law may not be prevented.

To enhance education and understanding of this issue, UC Irvine holds numerous programs designed to foster civil dialogues on difficult subjects. Last year, for example, we sponsored the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding, featuring Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies and professor of international relations at American University, and UCLA professor Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. We also recently received a prestigious grant from the Ford Foundation to establish Difficult Dialogues, a program that promotes academic freedom and constructive dialogue on campus. For more information, go to www.vcsa.uci.edu /difficultdialogues.

Q: Have there been any recent instances when administrators intervened to censor a speech, program or image?

A: No. In fact, the university has upheld the free speech rights of its students by protecting them from calls for censorship from outside groups.

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