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Finally Someone Has A Little Nerve

Bravo to the administration of the University of Chicago for going against the grain of insipid college administrators across the land. In a letter to the incoming class, the school takes the stand on free speech and academic freedom that any number of university presidents should have taken long ago:

Chicago Safe Spaces Letter1.jpg

Will other schools follow suit? Even Dartmouth? Or will Phil and Carolyn affirm their support for diversity and inclusivity in yet another in an endless string of cringe-inducing letters?

Addendum: The Chicago Maroon has the full story. And Inside Higher Ed reports on Chicago’s letter, too.

Addendum: University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, has followed-up Dean Ellison’s letter with a piece in the Wall Street Journal: Free Speech Is the Basis of a True Education: A university should not be a sanctuary for comfort but rather a crucible for confronting ideas. His introductory paragraphs:

Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university.

Invited speakers are disinvited because a segment of a university community deems them offensive, while other orators are shouted down for similar reasons. Demands are made to eliminate readings that might make some students uncomfortable. Individuals are forced to apologize for expressing views that conflict with prevailing perceptions. In many cases, these efforts have been supported by university administrators.

Yet what is the value of a university education without encountering, reflecting on and debating ideas that differ from the ones that students brought with them to college? The purpose of a university education is to provide the critical pathway by which students can fulfill their potential, change the trajectory of their families, and build healthier and more inclusive societies…

And his conclusion:

Universities cannot be viewed as a sanctuary for comfort but rather as a crucible for confronting ideas and thereby learning to make informed judgments in complex environments. Having one’s assumptions challenged and experiencing the discomfort that sometimes accompanies this process are intrinsic parts of an excellent education. Only then will students develop the skills necessary to build their own futures and contribute to society.

An alumnus writes in: “Too bad Hanlon shares neither Zimmer’s beliefs nor courage of conviction.”

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