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Monday, Nov. 22, 2004

Two individuals who indicate that they represent the Ku Klux Klan have registered in compliance with university procedures to speak in a free speech zone on campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, from 2 to 4 p.m. If they come, they will be located in the free speech zone west of Grawemeyer Hall. Prior to an earlier visit from KKK representatives, President James Ramsey, Provost Shirley Willihnganz and Student Government Association President Ryan McKinley sent the following message to the university community, and the campus community responded appropriately. The recommendations made then remain in place.

To the Campus Community:

September 3, 2004

On Wednesday, two individuals representing the Ku Klux Klan made a formal request to pass out literature in a campus "free speech" zone next Tuesday, Sept. 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. As you may know, KKK representatives repeatedly sought attention last spring by making public statements that they were on their way to pass out literature. They received this attention -- thus disrupting the study and work of our students, faculty and staff -- without ever actually showing up.

Last year, a university committee of faculty, staff and students reviewed practices related to outside groups on campus and recommended procedures designating when, where and how these groups can have access to our campus. (Please see Speech and Distribution of Literature Policy for the new procedures.) The procedures require outsiders to give advance notice, which these individuals have given, allowing us to advise the campus community and take appropriate security measures.

We absolutely do not want these individuals on our campus because their values are in strong opposition to the values of the University of Louisville. At the same time, as a state institution we must comply with state and federal laws that guarantee freedom of speech.

However, we can and should choose to deny these two individuals what they most want: Our attention. They want to disrupt our campus, distract us from our mission, and harm the reputation of our institution and its students, faculty and staff. After meetings with student and faculty groups, a consensus emerged that our best response is to ignore them.

We ask members of our community to consider avoiding these individuals when they are assigned to a "free speech" area south of Grawemeyer Hall on Tuesday. We will undertake highly visible security measures to protect everyone on our campus, and we will not tolerate any unlawful acts by any individuals.

Uniting Against Hate

Last spring, we had vigorous campus discussion about possible responses to hate groups on campus that led to a number of important steps, including the more restrictive policies mentioned earlier:

  • We reaffirmed our commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive campus.
  • We invested in additional campus security initiatives, including the hiring of 13 additional campus safety officers.
  • We undertook a continuing campaign to unite the campus against hate.
  • We consulted with the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations about constructive ways to respond to hate groups.
  • We held teach-ins and a day of dialogue to encourage education and discussion about hate groups, free speech, the importance of diversity and other important subjects.

You can find more about our responses on this Web site. We will continue to update this site this year.

While last year's discussions were sometimes difficult and did not always lead to agreement, we emerged from the spring semester as a community committed to responsible communication and action.

Now, we must unite as a community against hate by demonstrating that the University of Louisville is better than those who seek to divide and disrupt us. We can best make this demonstration by turning our backs on those who advocate hate and focusing our attention on what we are here to do: to care about each other, to create a welcoming and diverse campus, to learn, study, teach and advance the educational mission of our university.


James R. Ramsey

Shirley Willihnganz
Provost and Executive Vice President

Ryan McKinley
Student Government Association President

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