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Our Mission Statement

Friends for Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity at Duke (“Friends for Duke” or FFD) seeks to support and advance free expression, viewpoint diversity, and academic freedom on the Duke University campus. A member group of the Duke Alumni Association, FFD is composed principally of Duke alumni, along with students, parents of students, faculty, staff, and friends of all political persuasions and ages concerned about the future of civil discourse in higher education at Duke and across the country. A non-partisan organization, FFD is open to all seeking to promote dialogue, debate, and a culture of free speech, both in and outside the classroom, in a learning environment that allows the expression of all viewpoints.

We exist to uphold the highest standards of our University as set forth in its Mission Statement — “to promote an intellectual environment built on a commitment to free and open inquiry.”1

We “champion... the courage to hold, articulate, defend and debate ideas, whether popular or not, as an essential value of the university,”2

We affirm that “our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas... that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes.”3

At its core, FFD believes that without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university.

Friends for Duke supports a variety of active measures in this effort, including:

  • Clear statements from the University and its leadership that it will support and defend both faculty and students when their rights of free speech and academic freedom are challenged.
  • Increased clarity as to how our community’s commitments to free speech and academic freedom relate to our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Establishing and adopting our own Duke-version of the “Chicago Principles,” including committing to institutional neutrality.
  • Promoting and ensuring the availability of classes on civil discourse to all students in which they learn how to discuss difficult political and social issues.
  • Adding a session on the importance of free speech and intellectual diversity to first-year orientation.
  • Encouraging faculty to include a statement supportive of free speech and academic freedom on their syllabi.
  • Increased consideration and valuing of viewpoint diversity in both admissions and faculty hiring.
  • The administering of a university-wide campus climate survey to better understand the issues of polarization and self-censorship on campus and the means to effectively deal with it.

In a spirit of open collaboration, FFD continually invites new and better ideas in addition to those listed above.