First-Year Writing Position Statement on Responsible Discourse

First-Year Writing Position Statement on Responsible Discourse

Rowan’s First-Year Writing Position Statement on Responsible Discourse

Rowan’s First-Year Writing Program believes in the power of language and discourse, and we understand how both can be informed and shaped by our individual experiences and identities. As instructors, we are committed to creating safe and inclusive spaces where students can express themselves freely, and we recognize the vast opportunities for free expression that are made possible only through the cultivation of a classroom community by building bonds between all community members. 

As educators, it is our goal to nurture, promote, and advocate for our students’ voices--and not to silence them. We are, therefore, committed to freedom of speech and expression with the knowledge that “Freedom of Speech” does not and should not equate to speech without repercussions and/or consequence. Words have power, and we hold classroom community members accountable for what and how we communicate. For these reasons, we are all (students and faculty) called to challenge, interrogate, and push back on ideas that promote misinformation, which is defined as “false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive,” and hate speech, which is defined as, “speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people.” These forms of discourse have no place in our acts of communication. For these very reasons, we believe that the use of language, in all of its forms, cannot and should not be used to perpetuate ideas or ideological beliefs that are not only harmful to the intersecting identities of those in our classroom communities but are rooted in hate and misinformation.

Indeed, expressly because we seek to promote the free exchange of rational, respectful, and reasonable ideas, the First-Year Writing program firmly believes in the perpetual need to do the following:

  • Affirm our civic responsibility to promote truth and combat hate, in all contexts 
  • Affirm that communication acts that perpetuate lies and hate must be identified and stopped, fervently and quickly
  • Affirm that a “neutral” stance on the spread of misinformation and hateful ideologies merely permits hate and misinformation to be perpetuated and amplified
  • Identify and call out misinformation in the contexts of all writing and research we encounter
  • Acknowledge that differences of opinions among individuals are inevitable and valuable aspects of discourse, and communication acts that explicitly or implicitly perpetuate lies and hateful ideologies are abhorrent and inherently destructive to the goals of promoting discourse that includes a range of rational and respectful perspectives
  • Recognize that valuing freedom of speech and expression does not mean treating all speech acts equally or supporting speech free of consequence
  • Engage in the act of calling out (by identifying, acknowledging, interrogating, disrupting, and resisting) bad faith arguments--or arguments that lack a baseline of respect for the rights, dignity, and autonomy of others, only seeking to dominate discourse without valuing and tending to a range of perspectives, especially those that have historically been marginalized 
  • Empower students to act on their responsibility to identify and challenge instances of misinformation and hate in their own work and in the work of their peers
  • Use language as a way to both understand and respect our differences as empathetic bodies and as witnesses to our experiences and the experiences of others
  • Enact our commitment to the guidelines and regulations of Title VI and Title IX to ensure that classroom stakeholders are not the object of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, or sexual orientation
  • Actively engage in the stated mission of the College of Communication and Creative Arts by practicing Anti-Racism in all aspects of our professional lives

If you feel that you are someone you know is the victim of discrimination, you can report it here.