Trustees | Freedom of Expression

Invite Beier Back

WICHITA EAGLE   |  September 18, 2016 by Michael B. Poliakoff

I write to express concern about the decision of Newman University to disinvite Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier (“Newman cancels talk by Supreme Court justice after anti-abortion backlash,” Sept. 9 Eagle). Private religious colleges have every right to preserve doctrinal integrity. But withdrawing an invitation once issued signals a rejection of the open dialogue and inquiry essential for teaching and learning.

Silencing, rather than debating, controversial viewpoints runs counter to education. President Obama himself has warned students about the dangers of refusing to hear speakers who challenge their beliefs.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Rice, Christine Lagarde and George Will have all been barred or discouraged from campus visits. Places that should be sanctuaries for free inquiry have become equal-opportunity censors, repressing voices from the left, right and center.

Newman leaders should not be part of academia’s drift toward censorship. Even their own student handbook reads: “It is recognized that diversity of viewpoints, particularly as expressed by speakers invited to campus, encourages additional inquiry and examination.” Therefore, the university should restore Beier’s invitation to speak.


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