Is free speech on campus dying?
If so, it’s still kicking. Friday’s engaging talk by Geoffrey Stone from Chicago Law laid out and put to rest the arguments against free speech and academic freedom one by one, then finished them off with his responses to audience questions about the increasing use of hate speech by conservatives, and safe spaces for our increasingly diverse students.
Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge for Our Times
Friday, February 17 at 4:00pm
William W. Knight Law Center, Room 175
1515 Agate Street, Eugene, OR 97403
We live today in an era where students often demand censorship, and universities, afraid to offend their students, surrender academic freedom to charges of offense. What has brought about this confluence of events? Can such an approach to academic discourse be reconciled with the central mission of higher education to promote robust discourse, deliberation, and disagreement?
In this lecture, Professor Geoffrey R. Stone explores these questions, examines the history and vulnerability of academic freedom, and offers thoughts on how universities should reconcile their fundamental commitment to free and robust discourse with the equally fundamental need to nurture a community that values civility and mutual respect.
Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. A member of the law faculty since 1973, Mr. Stone served as dean ofthe Law School (1987-1994) and Provost of the University of Chicago (1994-2002). Mr. Stone is the author orco-author of many books on constitutional law and has been an editor of the Supreme Court Review. In the fall of 2013, Mr. Stone served as a member of President Obama’s five-member NSA Review Group, which in the wake of the Snowden disclosures advised the President and the Congress on abroad range of NSA surveillance programs.
UO First Amendment Chair Kyu Ho Youm asks how free speech is at UO. On the RG’s Op-Ed page here:
The University of Oregon has been in the national news since mid-2016 — not because of the $500 million commitment it received from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, but because of an actual or perceived lack of academic freedom. Consider the heated debates about the UO Bias Response Team last summer and the more recent free-speech controversy over a UO law professor wearing blackface at a Halloween party.
The headline-grabbing criticisms and counter-criticisms of freedom of speech at the UO seem incongruous, given that all this happens in the state of Oregon, which First Amendment scholar Ronald Collins at the University of Washington called “the land that many believe has the most robust protection of any state in the nation.”
But Oregon is hardly an unusual case. Many, if not all, American colleges and universities are caught in a vortex of argument over whether less is more when they balance academic freedom with civility, inclusivity and diversity on campus.
Calling the United States the land of freedom and opportunity could result in a Bias Response Team complaint. Speaking about freedom of speech in absolute terms could be found offensive by some. Are these examples so far-fetched as to be blit hely dismissed as irrelevant to our academic freedom debates? Take a look at various chilling reports of Bias Response Teams acting as the campus “speech police.” …
The public records on the UO Bias Response Team are posted on the UO Senate web page here (under documents and reports). UO has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to police this sort of speech.
Youm is one of the organizers of the Geoffrey Stone lecture on Friday:
Chicago Prof Geoffrey Stone to lecture UO Law School on free speech
Hard to think of a better time or place for this talk:
Geoffrey R. Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, will explore the balance between an institution’s fundamental commitment to free and robust discourse with the equally fundamental need to nurture a community that values civility and mutual respect. The lecture is Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. in Room 175, Knight Law Center.
In his talk, “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge in our Times,” Stone will make the case that higher education is in an era where, afraid to offend students, academic freedoms are surrendered in favor of avoiding transgressions.
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