Trustees | Freedom of Expression

Resisting Cancel Culture

Promoting Dialogue, Debate, and Free Speech in the College Classroom
February 1, 2021 by Nadine Strossen Download PDF

Reasoned and wide-ranging debate has all but vanished from the American college campus. In her new essay, Resisting Cancel Culture: Promoting Dialogue, Debate, and Free Speech in the College Classroom, former ACLU president Nadine Strossen marshals a wealth of survey data to show the scope and depth of the growing crisis: Americans feel more pressure to conceal their viewpoints today than during the McCarthy era.

The consequences of cancel culture reverberate beyond the academy—impoverishing our marketplace of ideas, coarsening our public dialogue, and undermining the intellectual resilience of college graduates. That is why Professor Strossen reminds us that free speech cultures must be fostered by the “deliberate efforts” of educators and concludes her essay with helpful “strategies for advancing these goals in the virtual classroom.”

Jonathan Rauch calls Strossen’s bold essay “essential reading.” As he explains in his Foreword, “Cancelers’ power to coerce and intimidate has been turbocharged by social media, where devastating shaming campaigns can be organized literally in minutes . . . . Strossen’s salient contribution is to lead civil libertarians—by argument and example—toward full engagement with the cultural side of the struggle.”   

Much is at stake as free expression is the bedrock of all liberties. ACTA is launching an ambitious campaign to respond to the dangerous cancel culture mentality that is spreading like a cancer on campuses across the nation. We must raise $25,000 by March 31, and we need your help!

Click the donate button above and support our campaign to distribute this important publication, along with an urgent call to action, to over 25,000 trustees and higher education leaders.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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