At Georgia Tech, one of our strategic values advocates safeguarding freedom of inquiry and expression.  As such, we hold the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to assemble peaceably as an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge and the foundation of a lively, healthy democracy. Through the free exchange of ideas, Georgia Tech students learn to see the world from different perspectives, question their own beliefs, hone their critical thinking skills, and develop their own unique viewpoints. 

However, the right to free speech also comes with responsibilities. It means respecting the rights and opinions of others, even if they differ from your own. It means being open to new ideas, even if they challenge your beliefs. And it means engaging in respectful dialogue, even when opinions clash. It means defending the rights of others to express themselves – even if what they say angers or even offends you. This site includes resources to help Yellow Jackets understand both their rights and responsibilities while at Georgia Tech.

Interim Campus Use Procedures for Unrestricted Outdoor Areas

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Georgia Tech Freedom of Expression Policy

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USG Policy on Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom

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Introduction to Freedom of Expression

When is Hate Speech Protected Speech? Another Look at Freedom of Expression

What Does Freedom of Expression Mean to You? (Part One)

What Does Freedom of Expression Mean to You? (Part Two)

Georgia State Laws on Freedom of Expression

HB 1

On May 3, 2022, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law HB1, known as the FORUM (Forming Open and Robust University Minds) Act. It prohibits USG campuses from creating restricted “free speech zones” and concurrently defines all unrestricted outdoor spaces as public forums for the campus community to use for expressive activity. USG campuses are allowed to regulate expressive activity on the basis of time, place and manner (the procedures are linked above), but enforcement cannot be driven by the content or viewpoint expressed. In fact, according to USG policy:

“USG and its institutions shall foster an environment where all members of the USG community are free to share ideas and opinions, even those that some may find offensive. Ideas and opinions should be openly and freely debated and discussed, both inside and outside of the classroom, without fear of suppression or reprisal. The USG community should promote intellectual debates, not close them off, and must uphold the values of civility and mutual respect while doing so…. Individual members of the USG community shall not attempt to prevent or otherwise interfere with the free expression of others, no matter how objectionable they may find the expressed ideas or opinions.” (Source: University System of Georgia, Board of Regents Policy Manual, )

HB 30

HB 30 was signed into law by Governor Kemp on January 31, 2024. HB 30 offers a definition of antisemitism that can be considered when ascertaining whether there was discriminatory intent in any criminal action under the 2020 Hate Crimes Act. Specifically, HB 30 notes that antisemitism includes harassment on the basis of actual or perceived Jewish origin, ancestry, ethnicity, identity, affiliation, or faith. In assessing whether discrimination or hate crime has occurred, the bill further requires State agencies to consider the following definition of antisemitism and associated examples of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on May 26, 2016, and incorporated by reference in Presidential Executive Order Number 13899, 84 F.R. 68779 on December 11, 2019.

Hate crimes carry higher penalties if an offender is found guilty, so this bill is significant. However, HB 30 also clarifies that people’s rights to engage in protected expressive activity cannot not be curtailed as a result; First Amendment protections regarding freedom of expression still prevail.

Where to Report a Concern

If you are faculty, staff, or a student and believe that your freedom of expression is being infringed upon, you can report the concern as follows: 

The University System of Georgia also offers an Ethics & Compliance Reporting Hotline (Ethics Line) for use by any members of the USG community.