Introducing “A Framework for Campus Crisis Management”

Practical Support for Academic Leaders Navigating Campus Speech Concerns

As the 2017-18 academic year draws to a close, many leaders in higher education will be breathing a collective sigh of relief. The past year has been a particularly divisive one, not just for our nation, but for university and college campuses across the country where speech-related challenges have led to protests and violence, not to mention internal strife over how to handle these complex situations.

At the Institute for Humane Studies, we believe the principles of the classical liberal tradition–including individual liberty and responsibility, limited government, economic freedom, the rule of law, free speech, and open inquiry–are the foundation of a just and prosperous world. And we believe that for those ideas to take root, they must be taught, explored, and challenged in higher education. We partner with and support thousands of scholars at hundreds of campuses across the country – and we haven’t met a single academic leader who is eager to take on speech-related campus crises. At the same time, no academic leader has the luxury to avoid the question of how she or he will respond in the face of such a crisis.

That’s why we created the newly released guide, “A Framework for Campus Crisis Management.” The purpose of this document is to provide academic leaders with principled, prudent, and practical advice on managing speech-related crises that arise on their campuses.

  • By principled we mean managing crises in a way that adheres to First Amendment protections, academic freedom, and a deep commitment to higher education’s mission as centers of intellectual exploration and discovery.   
  • By prudent we mean that the guidance offered in the Framework is informed by real-world experience, drawing from legal rulings and examples of academic leaders who have successfully navigated speech-related tensions.
  • And by practical we mean an academic leader should be able to immediately apply the guidance within the Framework to prepare for and manage speech related-crises when they inevitably occur.

An array of talent co-authored the Framework, which follows the IHS’s Free Speech Framework Booklet, released last year. Combining scholarly, administrative, and boots-on-the-ground crisis management expertise, the lineup includes a nationally recognized First Amendment Scholar, higher education leaders, and a Chief of Police from a major university.

If you are an academic leader concerned about how to create a campus culture that is both physically safe and intellectually stimulating, this guide is for you. That said, we welcome anyone who is engaged in the campus speech debate and looking for fresh thinking and real solutions to read this guide. We hope this advice and crisis management toolkit provide the necessary framework for academic leaders to be confident as they pursue and prepare for free speech events.

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