Practicing Freedom of Expression

Beyond a strong understanding of the constitutional and legal principles of freedom of speech, we are committed to reinforcing the many ways in which we practice freedom of expression with active listening, respectful discourse, and open dialogue.

We seek to build on the many learning opportunities in our close-knit campus community, programs in the CARE Center, training in dialogue and academic freedom in orientation and the College more broadly, inclusive pedagogy in the Center for Teaching and Learning, Athenaeum programs and conferences, and a full range of research opportunities on complex issues and skills in collaborative leadership, as supported by our centers and institutes.

First-Year Orientation

First-Year Orientation is designed to introduce students and their families to the College's traditions, academic programs, and student life as well as to help students meet new people and learn more about the college experience. Programs include:

First Year Guides (FYG) and Resident Assistants (RA)

FYGs and RAs participate in training workshops related to communication skills and dialogue facilitation. FYGs also take part in a multi-hour session on “telling your story” centered on self-reflection, articulation of their own first-year experience, and strategies to help first-year students feel confident in expressing themselves, and celebrating the many different experiences and perspectives of their classmates.


First-Year Orientation includes the workshops Dialogue Matters Part 1 – a 2-hour session intended to facilitate exploration of personal and community identity and to learn and practice dialogue strategies for communicating across difference; Academic Freedom – a cornerstone of higher education, in which students explore what it means to exercise the right to academic freedom and to practice academic inquiry even when faced with fundamental and serious intellectual disagreements; and Dialogue Matters Part 2 – conversations that build on prior orientation sessions in a deeper examination of difference and application of dialogue skills. CMC faculty with expertise in these areas are present at each workshop to help guide discussions.

First-Year Dinner

During the First-Year Dinner, visiting Professor of Literature and acclaimed author Mary Gaitskill addressed the first-year student class in an exploration of literature as related to expression and social critique. She shared some of her own work and discussed the importance of writing and thinking with courage and honesty.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum hosts speakers with expertise and insight on a wide range of topics, both historical and contemporary. In the past decade, Athenaeum speakers have included: David Brooks, Bill Clinton, Laverne Cox, Maureen Dowd, Shirin Ebadi, Eve Ensler, Henry Louis Gates, Anita Hill, Jon Huntsman, Jr., William Kristol, Fran Lebowitz, Stanley McChrystal, Charles Murray, Robert Reich, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, Salman Rushdie, Justice Antonin Scalia, Nate Silver, George Will, and many others. The 2017-18 Athenaeum schedule includes several speakers who will address issues of freedom of speech and academic freedom including Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report, Jonathan Zimmerman P’18, Jeffrey Toobin, Danielle Allen, and Jonathan Haidt.

CARE Center

The CARE Center (Civility, Access, Resources, and Expression) is an innovative undertaking that seeks to proactively engage and educate the community. The Center seeks to build capacity in communicating across difference with respect and civility. We are challenging ourselves to achieve the dual goal of providing space for dialogue and expression in a civil manner while also providing resources to support inclusion and remove institutional barriers to student success. Programs include:

Community-Wide Dialogue: You. Me. Together CMC.

The CARE Center launched the 2016-17 school year with a community-wide dialogue event that provided an opportunity to converse thoughtfully across difference; to exchange ideas, narratives, and counter-narratives; to engage difficult topics; and to evolve our thinking about personal and socially constructed identities. The event was held on September 9 at Roberts Pavilion and was well attended by more than 400 students, staff, and faculty.

Values, Identity, Scholarship, and the Arts (VISA)

In association with the Dean of the Faculty’s Office, the VISA program provides an opportunity for faculty and staff to gather with students and share how their careers choices have been shaped by their social identities and life experiences.

Real Talk series

Each month, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion leads discussions about topical issues arising from current events. The program provides an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to consider questions of social identity and expression in contemporary society.

Educational workshops

The CARE center hosts monthly trainings and interactive workshops to enhance the understanding of, and appreciation for, the diversity that makes up our campus community. Through guided self-reflection, academic exercises, and practice, participants develop behavioral skills that contribute to a more inclusive environment.

Cultural excursions

The CARE Center partners with student groups to foster cross-cultural appreciation and meaningful cultural exchange through off-campus trips and film screenings. Recently, the CARE Center co-sponsored a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It also hosted a viewing of the movie, The Birth of a Nation; students participated in a discussion before the film.

Faculty Training

The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning

The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning exists to enhance teaching and learning at the Claremont Colleges. By offering support for faculty in their pursuit of teaching excellence, CMC is better positioned to promote the intellectual and personal growth of all students at The Claremont Colleges.

Faculty Workshops

Workshops are also offered to CMC faculty including “Turning Controversy in the Classroom into Opportunities for Critical Inquiry.” Controversial topics such as inequality, discrimination, free speech, and censorship can become vehicles for promoting critical inquiry skills. This workshop will help faculty develop strategies for handling “hot moments” in the classroom and for equipping our students with the tools needed to participate in difficult conversations that are accurate, nuanced, supported by evidence, and logically sound. Faculty participants will leave the workshop with specific techniques for helping students to be responsible for their own words and actions, to construct reasoned arguments based on facts and evidence and to judge the reliability of those facts and evidence, and to interrogate their own beliefs and others' statements.  

Institutes and Centers

The research institutes and centers at Claremont McKenna College have one common goal: to provide CMC students with graduate-level research opportunities in conjunction with the College's distinguished faculty. In so doing, CMC students—as undergraduates—have unparalleled opportunities to engage with the leading minds on a wide array of complex issues, with an emphasis on the value of freedom of expression and at times a focus on the substantive issues relating to freedom of expression. See, for example, upcoming programs at the following centers and institutes:

Berger Institute

Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Financial Economics Institute

Gould Center

Keck Center

Kravis Leadership Institute

Lowe Institute

Mgrublian Center on Human Rights 

Roberts Environmental Center

Rose Institute

Salvatori Center

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