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Freedom of Expression Policy

From its inception, Loomis Chaffee has prepared students to lead lives that allow them to be their best selves and contribute to the common good. Inherent in that is the ability to engage in complicated, nuanced, and sometimes difficult discourse. This exercise allows us to examine and challenge our own beliefs and assumptions. Robust and spirited conversations can lead to exceptional learning, the type of learning that fosters intellectual and personal growth.  

It is also the case that Loomis places great importance on creating an environment where all members are treated with dignity and respect and can pursue their highest goals. These aims are not mutually exclusive; indeed, we balance freedom of expression with respect for members of our community on a regular basis.  It is important that our community members have the freedom to learn, to contribute, and to participate in the life of the school.  These reasonable expectations lead us to identify a narrow range of situations in which the school might restrict expression.   Expression will be limited when it:  

1)  violates state or federal law; 

2) constitutes slander, threats, or harassment; 

3) unreasonably invades individual privacy or violates confidentiality interests; or, 

4) is directly incompatible with the functioning of the school.

This is not to say that we always expect expression to be agreeable or popular, but we do expect it to be responsible and respectful in order to foster the best possible community for learning and growth. Loomis Chaffee expects community members to take citizenship seriously and to hold kindness and inclusivity at the center of their interactions. It is also important to remember that expression comes in many forms. Loomis is including in this policy all manners of expression including but not limited to verbal, written, and electronic communication; decorations or adornments such as flags or posters; clothing items; etc. Any manner of expression (posting, electronic communication, etc.) must have an affiliated person or group identified in order to facilitate any necessary follow-up.

If Loomis Chaffee students, faculty, or staff gather in a common place to support or contest a particular position on a school, local, national or international issue, they need to respect and abide by the limits above, as well as these specific requirements:

1)     A request for any such gathering needs to be communicated to the dean of students office no less than 24 hours ahead of time, so that there can be proactive communication with the community. Loomis Chaffee leadership will not preference one viewpoint over another when approving these requests.

2)     The gathering needs to be in one approved location, such as the Founders patio or the library steps.

3)     The name of a Loomis Chaffee student, faculty, or staff coordinator for the organizing group must be shared with the deans office in case issues arise.

4)     The gathering can only be open to Loomis Chaffee students, faculty, and staff and all participants must be identifiable.

5)     There needs to be a reasonable beginning and end time to the event, such as a community free period.

6)     If any of the previously noted limits are breached, the gathering will be called to an end.

All community members must understand that there is an important balance between using one’s voice for change and respecting the well-being of others.  Loomis will strive to support this crucial balance by being clear in its expectations and communication. We believe the School will continue to be a place where intellectual inquiry and discourse reflect community’s pursuit of the best self and the common good.

Updated May 3, 2024