The President’s Initiative on Respectful Discourse establishes a framework to provide the UTSA community with the knowledge, tools and skills to engage in serious and productive exchanges of views. Integrating legal, cultural, political and philosophical issues tied to free speech, this initiative promotes graduating world-engaged civic leaders of tomorrow, and creating an institutional culture built upon respect for others.
This initiative will lead the campus to address discourse, whether written or spoken, as not only a matter of rights, but of responsibilities and values. Curricular integration, co-curricular programming, faculty and staff training and community outreach will better equip the UTSA community to:
- Undertake more thoughtful exchanges of viewpoints;
- Engage in more productive and appropriate debates;
- Focus on the issues rather than on the individuals supporting them;
- Support interpretations using verified information;
- Listen more thoughtfully to what others say;
- Seek sources of disagreement and points of common purpose;
- Embody open-mindedness and a willingness change minds;
- Assume a need to compromise and a willingness to do so;
- Treat the expressions and ideas of others with respect;
- Understand the legal aspects of free speech and their applications on the university campus;
- Avoid escalation to verbal, emotional or physical harm.
The Respectful Discourse Steering Committee will oversee designated task forces that will tackle various aspects of this critical work and evolve over time as new areas of focus are identified.
Chair: Dean Hendrix, Dean of Libraries
The Respectful Discourse Steering Committee will foster a culture of rigorous inquiry, commitment to integrity and compassion by creating opportunities and infrastructure in teaching and learning, student life, research and outreach.