Respectful Discourse

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.

View the Initiative Brief

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.

Steering Committee

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.

Curricular Integration Task Force

The Curricular Integration Task Force will develop and recommend strategies to integrate respectful discourse principles into UTSA’s curricula with the goal of developing students able to address diverse ideas and experiences with integrity, rigor and respect.  Initially, the task force will assess best practices across the country, and recommend strategies for the university to implement. The task force will work closely with the University College, Faculty Senate, and curriculum committees across the university.
Membership to be determined

Co-Curricular Programming Task Force

The Co-Curricular Programming Task Force will recommend, develop and implement a coordinated campus plan for respectful discourse programming for all UTSA faculty, staff and students. Programming may include guest speaker events, workshops, teach-ins, point-of-need tools, and learning communities on topics such as the 1st Amendment, active listening, information analysis, negotiation and public speaking. The task force will work closely with the University College, Faculty Senate, and Student Affairs.
Membership to be determined

Faculty & Staff Training Task Force

The Faculty and Staff Training Task Force, in coordination with the Provost’s 21st Century Learning Environments Task Force, will provide faculty and staff the knowledge and tools to create learning environments aligned with respectful discourse principles.
Membership to be determined