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How Can They Say That? Free Speech at Cal State Fullerton

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Virtually everyone is “in favor” of free speech…until someone offers a viewpoint that is contradictory to theirs.

“Freedom of speech can only be protected if we come together as a community to protect it,” said Cecil Chik, assistant vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Cal State Fullerton. “Sometimes freedom of speech can feel like it’s infringing on our values, beliefs and personal experience. Embrace these challenging moments and continue to strive for community.”

Cal State Fullerton has always been — and must always be — a marketplace of ideas in which diverse perspectives from all sides of every issue are explored in a safe environment. But what, exactly does that mean? 

To help answer some of these questions, Cal State Fullerton developed a free speech website ( to explore some of the most common questions that campus members have raised about this issue.

Different members of the Titan family, from administrators to students to faculty members and others, describe difficult conversations, how to handle conflict, actively listen (and not interrupt), how to understand that conflict isn’t something to fear or avoid (having vulnerable conversations often feels good and helps in understanding others), approaching conflict with empathy, mutual respect, and more. 

“The goal is to enter into conflict and confrontations that doesn’t end in argumentation or hatred toward other people,” said Mia Rover, a human services major and second-generation Titan.

In fact, multiple perspectives are shared on the website in addition to frequently asked questions (How does the First Amendment right to free speech apply to controversial speakers who have been invited to speak to student groups? What is hate speech and is it illegal?) and resources for CSUF students as well as links for further exploration.

“It’s important to have resources and information on free speech on an easily accessible site,” said Ellen Treanor, associate vice president for strategic communications. “We will be updating the site frequently and we welcome any questions and clarifications at”

Valerie Orleans