The University of Chicago has been hailed for its commitment to free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) since January of 2015.
Now, the school is in the news because of a letter given to incoming Freshmen.
Heat Street reports:
University of Chicago to Incoming Freshmen: Don’t Expect ‘Safe Spaces’ Here
The University of Chicago, one of America’s most prestigious and selective universities, is warning incoming students starting this fall not to expect safe spaces and a trigger-free existence during their four-year journey through academia.
In a letter sent to the class of 2020, university officials said one of the defining characteristics of the school was its unwavering commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. Civility and mutual respect are vital to the campus culture, the letter states, but not at the expense of shielding students from unpopular opinions or ideas.
“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” the letter states…
Safe spaces, where students can shelter from ideas or expression they find discomforting, are the other trend du jour on some campuses. Brown University last year turned a room on campus into a safe space by outfitting it with cookies, coloring books, soft music, pillows and a video of frolicking puppies, along with trauma counselors, after students complained that a speaker invited to campus would be too upsetting.
The University of Chicago is having none of it. To drive home the point, the letter to students includes a link to a report on freedom of expression issued by the university in January 2015. The report quotes a former president of the University, Hanna Holborn Gray, as saying that “education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.
The College Fix makes the point that this is about treating adult college students like adults:
In a welcome letter to the class of 2020, University of Chicago leaders put the smack down on safe spaces and trigger warnings. The letter is quickly spreading across the Internet, because it plainly states what should be common knowledge and universally accepted and embraced at all universities: This is college, not preschool.
The Chicago Maroon shared an image of the letter on Twitter:
In a welcome letter to freshmen, the College made clear that it does not condone safe spaces or trigger warnings: pic.twitter.com/9ep3n0ZbgV
— The Chicago Maroon (@ChicagoMaroon) August 24, 2016
Here’s a larger version you can click on to enlarge and read:
We need more of this in American higher education.
The University of Chicago’s policy should be the rule, not the exception.
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