University of Chicago Defends Free Speech Against 'Safe Spaces'

Posted: 9/4/2016 12:08:00 PM
Author: Tyler O'Neill
Source: This article firsdt appeared on the PJ Media website on August 25, 2016.

University of Chicago Defends Free Speech Against 'Safe Spaces'
by Tyler O'Neill

The University of Chicago sent a letter to the incoming Class of 2020, explaining why it values free inquiry and free expression over the politically correct culture of "safe spaces," "trigger warnings," and — unstated but very much implied — "microaggressions."

"You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort," Dean of Students John (Jay) Ellison wrote. The university embraces this discomfort because one of its "defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression."

"Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others," Ellison explained. Nevertheless, free inquiry and free expression are much more valuable than the sensitivity of students. The letter makes this very clear, rejecting the political correctness spreading across college campuses.

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.

In a powerful statement of irony, Ellison argued that the very focus on diversity which usually encourages the culture of "safe spaces" is the main reason why the University of Chicago must reject it.