26Aug
News

Finally – a big name university stands up for free speech

It seems like universities everywhere are caving in to demands to suspend freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry and academic freedom to vindicate the feelings of unbelievably sensitive students.

The results have been frightening: trigger warnings, safe spaces and an irrational fear of so-called ‘microaggressions’ are everywhere.

But there is some good news: the University of Chicago has penned a letter to new students reaffirming their “commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression”, and criticising censorship:

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

Dr John Ellison, the Dean of Students who wrote the letter, states that at the University of Chicago:

We expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times, this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.

It is encouraging to see that at least one university is resisting the censorious culture creeping on to college campuses, especially when Australian universities are falling victim to it.

The Institute of Public Affairs’ Free Speech on Campus Audit 2016 found that eight-in-ten Australian universities have policies or have taken action that unambiguously infringes free speech. Meanwhile, as revealed by Generation Liberty, an Australian university will shortly become the first to introduce trigger warnings.

The University of Chicago, on the other hand, is encouraging students to flourish by no longer protecting them from arguments and contrary opinion.

You can read the full letter here:

the-university-of-chicago

In 2015, the University of Chicago published a report from the Committee on Freedom of Expression that outlines their strong commitment to free inquiry.

John Hajek

John Hajek is the IPA Campus Coordinator at the University of Melbourne.

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