University Statement

Yale’s commitment to free expression

Yale University is committed to the robust testing of ideas through scholarly examination and teaching. We adhere to the principles on free expression set forth in the University’s exemplary policy document, the Report of the Committee on Free Expression at Yale. Released in December 1974, it is commonly known as the “Woodward Report.” The report makes clear that faculty and students at Yale have “the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.” Freedom of expression includes the ability to protest others’ speech — but neither to prevent it nor prevent it from being heard by others. The Woodward Report is widely disseminated and discussed frequently. Since the report was released, no speaker invited by our faculty or students that we know of has been disinvited to campus. Yale regularly hosts speakers from across the political spectrum, and welcomes vigorous debate.

Yale actively seeks a student body with broadly diverse backgrounds, talents, life experiences, and viewpoints. It is critical to our educational mission that students encounter those who differ from themselves, who have perspectives they may not have encountered previously. This can be challenging in our society and likewise challenging on campus at times. By grappling with new ways of thinking, students refine their own understandings, sharpen their intellects, and enhance their abilities to become leaders who tackle the world’s hardest problems. 

Yale alumni are likewise an intellectually diverse group. Yale has a mechanism for alumni to petition for election to the Board of Trustees. An alumnus or alumna who gains the requisite number of signatures is placed on the ballot.