November 10, 2022

Conversation on free speech, diversity of thought is Wednesday

A “Conversation of Understanding” next week will look at the 2022 Viewfinder Campus Climate survey that recommended educating students on free speech and fostering an environment where they are taught “how to think well, not what to think.” 

Faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members are invited to join the live virtual discussion with Michelle N. Deutchman, executive director of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Engagement at noon Wednesday, Nov. 16. 

Sheila Caldwell, SIU System vice president for antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer, will have the conversation with Deutchman.  A lecturer in law at the University of California, Los Angeles, Deutchman specializes in safeguarding free speech at universities while simultaneously maintaining a safe and inclusive campus environment. 

The conversation will address avenues of communication that are aligned with freedom of speech and expression principles. Deutchman will explore how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement should enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge across SIU campuses, and in America’s colleges and universities. She will also engage attendees with case studies. 

A Q&A session will follow where participants can use the YouTube comment section. Questions may be submitted before or during the event to

The meeting will be available on the SIU System’s YouTube channel. To add the event to your Outlook calendar, view it on the campus calendar, click the plus sign at the bottom, then click download iCal. 

This is the third session of a six-part series for the 2022-23 academic year. The Conversation of Understanding series began in June 2020 and features virtual exchanges where students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members can share their experiences and thoughts on a variety of themes related to diversity, inclusion and equity.  

The SIU System President’s Office and the SIU System Diversity Advisory Council are discussion sponsors.