President of U. Texas at Austin: “There Is No Higher Education Without Free Speech”
“Free speech is perhaps the greatest right we have as Americans.”
Jay Hartzell makes some excellent points in a recent op-ed.
From UT Today:
There Is No Higher Education Without Free Speech
As the new president of The University of Texas at Austin, I know that our great institution can live up to its highest ideals only by creating a space where open discourse, discovery and debate can flourish.
I also know that during these challenging and divisive times, the notion of “free speech” has become somewhat controversial and politicized. This is a mistake. The freedom to speak and debate is not only outlined in the First Amendment of the Constitution — it is at the heart of the scientific method and all of the scholarship, creative work and research that defines a world-class university.
Free speech is perhaps the greatest right we have as Americans. And now is the perfect time to take a hard look at how colleges and universities across Texas and the country can work together to reinforce our commitment to free speech among students, faculty members, staffers, administrators and alumni. Difficult and deeply uncomfortable conversations are sometimes necessary for us to make progress.
Longhorn Nation and our great state must remember that supporting people’s freedom to speak and express is not an endorsement of the content of their speech or what they say. It does not endorse its truth, its value or its morality. It does, however, stand on the premise that the only way to figure out what is true, valuable and morally right is through thought and discussion. Freedom of speech is the path, not the problem. And it is vital that our institutions of higher learning understand that and make it known to all those whom we serve. It is only through discourse that we can truly move forward and make breakthroughs.
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I’ll believe it when he has SturmAntifa arrested for beating up conservatives.
Ok, this sounds good, very good. This is a total embrace of the enlightenment and what our Founders bequeathed us . Now, let’s find out when and how the rubber meets the road, shall we? Invite Milo to come and speak to his recent transformation, follow it up with one of your locals, Alex Jones to rant about whatever he wants to rant about, then bring Noam Chomsky to let loose on any topic he feels like, and then, for the absolute proof that UT is serous, invite Donald J. Trump to come and speak about voter, election, and vote aggregation integrity. Do this and we will thoroughly believe and embrace your commitment to free speech,
I’m pleasantly surprised, as an alumnus. But I will wait to see if he’s serious.
His predecessor, Gregory L. Fenves, was good on free speech as well. The problem is the faculty and the students.
Fenves was “good on free speech”???
Are you high? (BTW, I’m UT BA ‘83, JD ‘86.)
Fenves gave UT its Orwellian “Faculty Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Initiative,” which makes hiring, promotion, and even scholarship subject to PC litmus tests and de facto loyalty oaths to SJW positions. He was completely silent (and took zero disciplinary action) as UT conservative students were doxxed (and worse) for expressing the mildest of opposition to the preferred narrative. And it was on his watch that the Law School became a bad joke on the issue (although most of the blame there lies on Larry Sager).
It was the climate created on Fenves’ watch that resulted in UT rated as the WORST public university in the US (and 2d worst overall) on free speech on campus in FIRE’s survey of US universities. (Mark Pulliam has written extensively on the disaster that was the Fenves administration.)
Yes, unhinged UT faculty are the source of most of the problem. But supervising and disciplining the faculty when they they go overboard is the President’s job. Fenves did nothing to rein in (or even criticize) the whackos, and so guess what — they felt, correctly, that they had free rein to implement their suppression of opposing viewpoints.
Hartzell is at least talking a good game (due perhaps to a fear that the Texas Legislature will take a hard look at what is going on at UT, and do something like what has been done in Iowa, Idaho, and SD). But until I see more than words (e.g., adopting the Chicago Statement, with a codicil from the President that faculty and students who violate it are subject to discipline), UT is “same cart, new driver.”
UT Austin alum here too. BA: 1433 BC.
Hartzell’s budget must be in front of the Senate Committee right now since it’s legislative season. Then he’ll return to his daily Marxist diatribes.