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Sunday, June 23, 2024

On Tuesday, UF President Bernie Machen accepted the recommendations from a committee created after University Police officers Tasered a UF student at a campus speech.

The Ad Hoc Committee on a Civil, Safe and Open Environment issued its 52-page final report after six months of research about how to balance campus safety with First Amendment rights.

The committee recommended that UF develop a Web site with training materials on free-speech issues and draft a statement about the value of free speech at UF.

In addition to these materials, the committee wrote that UPD should receive extra training about how to protect First Amendment rights while ensuring security at campus events.

"We believe public universities such as the University of Florida play a special role in encouraging the exercise of speech rights protected by principles of academic freedom and responsibility as well as by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the report stated.

The committee found that UPD's revised policy on Taser use was acceptable and more conservative than state law requires.

Kim Tanzer, committee chairwoman, could not be reached for comment by press time.

In a letter to the committee, Machen specifically commended the group for recognizing the efforts by UPD and Accent, UF's Student Government speaker's bureau, to revise their policies and for suggesting that UPD provide annual reports of its use of force incidents on its Web site and to the Faculty Senate.

UPD currently offers these reports to the Student Senate.

"The committee's report reflects a thorough and thoughtful review of many complex issues and different perspectives involved in appropriately balancing safety and openness," Machen wrote.

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