More on Professor Youm, who came to the US as a student from Korea when it was still a military dictatorship, here. He’s been a longtime advocate for free speech and government transparency. His full Op-Ed is here. (Now in the RG too here.) The ending:
… It gets worse.
As a media law teacher-scholar and a former campus newspaper adviser, I was stunned by another case that has made UO a laughingstock in the national press: “An anonymous student reported that a newspaper gave less press coverage to trans students and students of color,” the BRT report stated. “Response: A BRT Case Manager held an educational conversation with the newspaper reporter and editor.”
The BRT’s ham-handed way of dealing with a student’s complaint about the Daily Emerald’s coverage was embarrassingly misguided. And it was a lost teachable moment for the BRT.
First Amendment attorney Charles Glasser adjures the BRT to take a more enlightening approach: “Students need to learn that living in a vibrant democracy requires being able to hear upsetting ideas without losing your mind. The same democracy allows — even encourages — responsible counter-speech. You could even teach them to write a coherent letter to the editor.”
The University of Chicago’s widely praised report of 2015 on freedom of expression offers good guidance about encouraging, not discouraging, free speech in academia: “Debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrongheaded.”
UO ought to join other schools, including Princeton University, in adapting and adopting the University of Chicago’s free-speech statement as its framework for campus expression. As a Supreme Court justice once opined, the best corrective for bad speech is good speech, not censorship or punishment.
I have engaged with my journalism and law colleagues on the BRT in recent weeks. Few have been eager to step forward and express their thoughts on the BRT. And I have been advised to be more “politically astute” in taking issue with the BRT and its impact on the UO faculty, staff and students.
A discerning UO colleague, who has endured a real-life chilling experience with the BRT, has told me: “Now that we have become a laughingstock to the entire nation due to our relationship with the BRT, nothing could be more important than discussing this issue with the entire faculty and staff.”
Those of us who understand that free speech versus cultural sensitivity is not a zero-sum game should scrutinize the BRT in an uninhibited, robust and wide-open way. As Professors Jeffrey Aaron Snyder and Amna Khalid at Carleton College cogently noted in their New Republic article: “BRTs are fatally flawed” and that “BRTs will turn the genuine, transformative educational power of diverse voices into a farce.”
I’d like to applaud my journalism and communication colleagues for leading the UO conversations on the BRT. The BRT has been entrenched in the UO community as part of its institutional machinery for the past 17 years, but it has been subject to little scrutiny throughout its entire history.
The Bias Response Team has received little scrutiny because university professors are in general terrified of being accused of bias. Fortunately Prof Youm is not.
For the record, UO’s Academic Freedom and Free Speech and Inquiry policies are stronger than the University of Chicago’s policy. See here for the UO language and some history on how hard we had to fight former UO GC Randy Geller, former President Mike Gottfredson, and Sharon Rudnick, Tim Gleason, and Doug Blandy to get the Academic Freedom Policy passed and signed.
That fight’s not over – GC Kevin Reed is probably going to bring “time and place” restrictions to the UO Senate this year. Here’s hoping they’re not as ridiculous as Randy Geller’s anti-chalk efforts. And of course having a policy is the easy part. The hard part is following it. Has the BRT broken UO’s policy?