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U. Chicago: Everyone ‘Free to Debate, Disagree, Argue’ Without Repercussions

U. Chicago: Everyone ‘Free to Debate, Disagree, Argue’ Without Repercussions

No fear of being silenced.

University of Chicago Dean of Students Dr. John Ellison is sticking to his guns when it comes to free speech. Just like last year, he has reminded all incoming freshman that free speech is tolerated on the campus. From Campus Reform:

“At the University of Chicago, we insist that all faculty and students are free to debate, disagree, and argue, without fear of being silenced,” Dean of Students Dr. John (Jay) Ellison wrote in a letter welcoming incoming freshmen to campus.

Ellison also included a comprehensive paper written by Dean of the College John Boyer, which recounts the school’s historical commitment to the principles of free expression and summarizes the policy statements that have made it a role model for other universities around the country.

“From its founding in 1890 the university has been a place of intense and productive debate and discussion, undertaken with the conviction that full freedom of expression and analysis is crucial to the cultural identity and scholarly mission of a real university,” Ellison noted. “Because our campus is a place that respects unique perspectives and powerful ideas, it is also a place where opinions and even core beliefs will be tested, sharpened, and subjected to rigorous academic analysis.”

The letter closely echoes one that Ellison sent to last year’s incoming freshman class, but takes a somewhat less direct approach, eschewing the use of terms like “trigger warning” and “safe space.”

Last year’s letter likewise evoked the school’s famous “Chicago Statement,” which Ellison called one of the “defining characteristics” of UC, but also explicitly rebuked those who believe that individuals have a right to be insulated from free speech, writing that “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.”


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