Our Campus Courtyard, Free Speech, and Community Standard

Dear Colleague,

On Monday, June 4th, a member of the public was vocally expressing his religious views in our campus courtyard. I want to acknowledge that some students and employees – including myself – may have experienced a range of emotions, including feeling hurt, being offended, or distressed by the person’s comments and sign. This individual’s messages do not align with our College’s Community Standard statement.

As a College community, we do not subscribe to hateful and/or disrespectful actions. We value creating an open and welcoming campus environment for all. As a public college, we also uphold individual rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, even if we disagree with a person’s ideology.

The College can also take action in accordance with our policies and procedures. This means that if a person’s behavior disrupts the teaching, learning, and/or business operations of the College, or threatens someone’s physical safety, a response team from Safety & Security and Executive Team will organize and respond to the situation accordingly. Depending on the circumstance, our actions and responses may vary and could include asking students and employees to follow directions from administrators in order to de-escalate a situation.

If anyone on campus takes an action that makes you or your students feel harassed, discriminated against, or threatened, you are encouraged to respond in one of two ways:

-If you are concerned for anyone’s physical safety, contact Safety & Security at 206-546-4633 (or 911 if it’s an emergency)
-If you witness or know of any incident that goes against our Community Standard, please report it to the Community Standard email address (communitystandard@shoreline.edu) to initiate an investigation and response

If you know of anyone, especially students, who were affected by the incident on Monday and may still be in need of support, please refer them to the Counseling Center for support (206-546-4594, FOSS Building 5000, Room 5245). And if you are personally feeling distressed and in need of any support, please make sure to access our Employee Assistance Program (877-313-4455).

Based on prior experience, we know this may not be the last time we see such an incident on campus, so I hope this information provides reassurance that the College has a response plan in place for situations like this, and that there are steps you can take to report and share information. The more we understand what’s happening on campus, the better we can respond with a collective action that helps us live into the values of our Community Standard, while ensuring we uphold First Amendment rights, as required by law.

Cheryl Roberts, Ed.D.

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