Threats to free speech have been all over the news in the world of higher education. Disinvitations, no-platforming and shouting down speakers have become all too frequent, a tragic “new normal” at too many colleges and universities during these politically contentious times.
Fortunately, efforts are underway to fight back. Sarah Brown, a journalist for the Chronicle of Higher Education, published an in-depth report this week, looking at the important work the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has done to defend free expression in higher education. A close partner to ACTA, FIRE has been on the frontlines as a First Amendment watchdog pushing back when colleges and universities abridge free speech, debate, and academic freedom on campus.
In the aftermath of the shameful treatment of Charles Murray at Middlebury College and the assault of faculty member Allison Stanger by protesting students, scholars and commentators across the political spectrum are united in revulsion. Professors Cornel West and Robert George, Princeton University’s model of civil, intellectual discourse across political difference, organized a statement signed by hundreds in defense of “Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression.”
Trustees and concerned alumni groups, too, have a role to play in safeguarding free expression. Here are three strategies governing boards can use to defend free speech and promote a healthy and open campus discourse:
UPDATE (4/13/17) : A spokesperson for Middlebury College contacted ACTA to provide several updates:
ACTA will continue to monitor these developments.
Inside HigherEd, Nick Roll
Wall Street Journal, Douglas Belkin
Wall Street Journal, Kent Fuchs and Glenn C. Altschuler
The Chronicle, Liam Adams
The Chronicle, Howard Gillman and Erwin Chemerinsky
EdSurge, Sydney Johnson