A Practical Suggestion About Campus Free Speech
Print Friendly and PDF

From the Los Angeles Times opinion page:

Don’t just give money to your college of choice, donate some free speech backbone

MAY 15, 2019 | 3:05 AM

A specter is haunting American college campuses — the specter of social justice hysteria. …

Some brave souls have begun to push back. But only one group has the leverage to begin lifting the siege: donors. …

Those of us who give to higher education today have an unusual opportunity: We can donate not just money, but backbone. American colleges and universities raised $47 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30. By making those gifts contingent on an institution’s commitment to free speech, freedom of inquiry and the rights of all students and faculty, donors can begin to turn the tide on the current intellectual reign of terror.

If you are planning a gift to your alma mater, or to any other institution of higher education, you should first determine if the school has adopted the so-called Chicago statement of free speech principles, or something very close to it. At last count, 63 individual institutions or campus systems had adopted or endorsed its principles or something quite similar. These include Columbia, Georgetown, Princeton, Purdue and the City University of New York, according to the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has put forth a model resolution based on the Chicago statement that is easily adapted.

If you hope to give to a school that has not embraced the Chicago statement, write to the institution’s president to say that you will not be sending any more money until these principles are endorsed. Adopting a set of principles won’t by itself change the climate of a campus, but it’s a start. …

While you’re at it, ask for something specific: a policy requiring all incoming freshmen, before they’re permitted to matriculate, to acknowledge in writing that they will encounter a wide range of ideas in college, including some they may find disturbing. Newcomers must further acknowledge that they will respect the rights of students, faculty and others on campus, and that they face discipline for the willful disruption of free expression. Such a requirement is a plainspoken trigger warning. But it’s also a consent form and should be welcome on that basis, for no one is more concerned with consent than today’s campuses.

Daniel Akst, a former columnist and editor at The Times, is a writer in New York’s Hudson Valley.

[Comment at Unz.com]

Print Friendly and PDF