Office of the President

Hate speech does not equal free speech

December 13, 2017
San Antonio Express-News
Hate speech does not equal free speech

American colleges and universities have always embraced diverse points of view, leading to a multitude of new discoveries and cultural understanding. Higher education is a phenomenal place for minds to be challenged, to inquire, explore, discover and question the status quo.

But from time to time, American colleges and universities witness hate speech or activity disguised as free speech. Such has been the case in recent weeks at several colleges and universities in San Antonio and throughout Texas.

As members of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio, we — the presidents of colleges and universities throughout this community, and supporters — feel it is important to speak out and make a distinction between diversity of thought and disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech. We further attest that hate speech has no place at our colleges and universities. Inappropriate messages, such as banners and flyers that are meant to provoke, spread hate or create animosity and hostility, are not welcome or accepted.

Teaching, research and critical thinking are the founding pillars of higher education. Each and every day, we witness incredible learning opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and community members.

San Antonio’s colleges and universities are stronger and more diverse than ever. During the upcoming Tricentennial, many events, activities and symposiums are being planned at our colleges to honor the city’s multicultural heritage, as well as current and future residents. San Antonio colleges and universities have played an enormous part in the city’s history. We are proud to have been a part of this great accomplishment and will further ensure that it continues to be our focus in the next 300 years.

Please join us in celebrating the power of higher education in the lives of San Antonio residents!

Ric N. Baser is the president of Northwest Vista College in the Alamo Colleges District and the president of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio. He and 12 HECSA members signed this letter, along with Mayor Ron Nirenberg. To read the names of all those supporting this message, go to

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