UMich president defends free-speech code after Justice Department criticism

ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan is firing back against its critics, including the U.S. Department of Justice, who say the university isn’t protecting free speech.

UM President Mark Schlissel on Friday discussed the issue in an interview with The Ann Arbor News and MLive.

UM also filed a legal response Friday, June 15, to SpeechFirst’s lawsuit against UM, describing the organization’s depiction of the university’s speech code and policies as “a false caricature.”

“No student at the University has been disciplined under the Statement for harassing or bullying based on the mere expression of a point of view,” UM’s response said.

“And the Bias Response Team that is the focus of much of the Plaintiff’s attack is not a disciplinary body at all. Its work is purely supportive and educational, and it works only with students ‘who agree to participate.'”

The lawsuit, filed by Washington D.C.-based group Speech First on May 8 in the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District, claims the UM Bias Response Team’s policies “capture staggering amounts of protected speech and expression.”

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