Compelled Speech Prohibition
On Feb. 23 UNC Board of Governors passed revisions to the employee political activities policy. These revisions are intended to codify the UNC System’s commitment to free expression and to prohibit compelled speech.
The following information is provided to help HR officers and search committees understand how to apply the policy. The Graduate School and Office of Undergraduate Admissions are working to adjust any necessary language, and the Provost’s Office will work with schools directly to assist with any adjustments to current practice in their specific faculty promotion and tenure processes.
What is compelled speech?
The UNC System policy prohibits compelled speech in hiring, admission, or promotion/tenure. University representatives will not solicit or require an applicant, candidate, or faculty member to make statements that require attesting to or affirming beliefs about matters of contemporary political debate or social action as part of these processes.
It is important to note that this policy does not impact value statements or expressions made by schools, units or departments regarding our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment to the diverse populations we serve. These statements can remain on websites and other materials as long as they do not compel employees or applicants to attest to or affirm any statements of political belief or social action.
How do I identify compelled speech?
When reviewing the application for a search, avoid any required or supplemental questions that solicit or require the applicant to attest to viewpoints or beliefs, such as a DEI statement or political perspective, or general questions that point the applicant toward attesting to beliefs or a specific point of view in their answer.
Additionally, avoid any questions that could signal to the interviewee or candidate that the questioner prefers a particular answer.
How can I ask questions in compliance with the new policy?
Questions in the application process can ask about the person’s experience, job competencies, and skills in a certain area that can be measured and are applicable to the position they are applying for. The following are examples of questions that are not compelled speech.
The following examples are questions that avoid compelled speech when it’s tied to a specific role or duties that the role is responsible for. They can provide a starting point to develop questions that are specific to the duties of a particular role.
- This job requires direct communication with a broad array of constituencies. Tell me about a time when your communication was made more effective by gaining greater understanding or adapting to the perspectives or life experiences of others.
- This school serves the full complement of citizens of this state, and beyond. How might you approach building a culture and community within the school to effectively and equitably engage students, faculty, staff, citizens, elected officials, and other stakeholders who hail from across the state and beyond?
- What strategies might you use to ensure access to resources and promote student success in a public university setting where students reflect the socioeconomic, racial, religious, and other diverse characteristics across the state?
- What tools might you employ to engage a broad base of constituents of our school to advance its mission. Those constituents may be internal or external, and broadly reflect the diversity—in all of its forms—of the state.
Who do I contact for more information or help?
If you have questions about the policy or need help reviewing language for a personnel search, please contact Linc Butler at email@example.com. Questions about faculty promotion and tenure issues can be directed to the Provost’s Office.