Hey Students! Make Your School the First Heterodox University!

Want to support free speech and greater viewpoint diversity on your campus? Here's how.


Robert Kneschke/Dreamstime

The good folks over at Heterodox Academy are launching an initiative today that aims to help students who want see greater viewpoint diversity on their college campuses. As my Reason colleagues have repeatedly reported, free speech and non-P.C. views are endangered on college campuses around the country. The Heterodox Academy was established by a group of scholars who are concerned about the problem of the loss or lack of viewpoint diversity at universities and colleges. They observe, "When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged. To reverse this process, we have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy."

The new initiative centers around three proposed resolutions affirming viewpoint diversity that are designed to be introduced by students and adopted by student governments that declare their schools to be a "Heterodox University." The preamble of the proposed resolutions declares …

… we know that exposure to diversity broadens our minds and prepares us for citizenship in a diverse democratic society. Research shows that the kind of diversity that most improves the quality and creativity of thinking is viewpoint diversity. When everyone thinks alike, there is a danger of groupthink, prejudice, dogmatism, and orthodoxy. People in the majority benefit from interacting with individuals who see things differently.

At a time when American democracy is polarizing into antagonistic camps and informational bubbles, many colleges and universities are becoming more intellectually and politically homogeneous. Orthodoxies arise, dissent is punished, and quality declines. We do not want that to happen in our community.

We therefore welcome heterodoxy, meaning that we want to support those within our community who hold dissenting or minority viewpoints; we want them to express themselves freely and without fear. We value viewpoint diversity not merely out of compassion for those in the minority but also because such diversity helps us all to develop skills essential for life after graduation, including the ability to judge the quality of ideas for ourselves, the ability to formulate arguments against ideas we reject, and the ability to live and work amicably alongside those whose ideas and values we do not share.

The resolutions urge (1) the Faculty Senate at schools to adopt the University of Chicago's Principles on Freedom of Expression, or (2) implement a non-obstruction policy against shouting down controversial speakers, or (3) asks the university to explcitly include viewpoint diversity in its faculty hiring and curriculum policies.

Last year, the University of Chicago issued a report on freedom of expression on its campus which stated:

Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the University, the University of Chicago fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University community "to discuss any problem that presents itself."

Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community. …

In a word, the University's fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University's educational mission.

As a corollary to the University's commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

Who in academia (or anywhere else in real life, for that matter) could possibly object to these principles? So go here for more details on the Heterodox Academy initiative to help make your school a Heterodox University. Good luck and let us know your efforts turn out.

As a bonus, see the discussion between my colleagues Robby Soave and Matt Welch on "How the Federal Government is Killing Free Speech on Campus" below.

NEXT: The GOP Is Writing Off 30 Percent of the American Electorate

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  1. “…help students who want see greater viewpoint diversity on their college campuses.”

    Both of them, and I’m not real certain about the second one.

  2. Affirmative action for bullshit. “Political correctness” is a derogatory term for good manners. There are plenty of minority viewpoints in schools and universities. You just don’t like it that yours has little serious academic support.

    1. Good manners being – “speak as we say you are permitted to, or be punished”.

      “serious academic support” – Self-selecting, intellectual closure for $400, Alex?

      This bubble cannot burst fast enough.

      1. Oh my god is there a more insular and impenetrable bubble than the internet libertarian-sphere.

        And if you want to disentangle any legitimate gripes about speech police–a phenomenon I’m sensitive to–from anti-PC whining that is obviously the province of racists and morons (see Trump, Donald, the campaign of), then you have some work to do, and you shouldn’t expect others to do it for you.

      2. Well, this is precisely the point, for, as the Chicago guidelines state, the freedom to politely express an opinion must be used “responsibly.” Surely by now everyone knows that those who cross the line into irresponsibility risk being arrested and incarcerated. For an excellent example, see the documentation of America’s leading criminal “satire” case at:


        The insidious “free-speech” crimes involved in this case stem from an academic dispute, but I don’t see any academics, or any members of the “free speech community” (ha-ha-ha), defending the outrageous “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated, liberal judge. Either all of these dignified experts must be cowards or, as I prefer to think, they fully agree with me that inappropriately deadpan “Gmail parodies” designed to “damage the reputation” of a distinguished academic department chairman should, and indeed must, be punished by incarceration, regardless of whether the “speech” involved deals with “truthful” underlying allegations of plagiarism or the like. Everyone knows that such charges, regardless of their “truth,” must be raised with the utmost politesse and discretion, because in our great nation we respect academic civility and draw the line where it needs to be drawn.

    2. T: Why not click on some of the links to my colleagues’ reporting on the issue? You might encounter some diversity of views with regard to how free speech is faring on campus.

      1. The horror. The horror. (Of a non-leftist viewpoint!)

      2. Most of the time when I click a link in a Reason article, it takes me to another Reason article. Diversity of viewpoints indeed.

        1. Vox or GTFO.

    3. Tony: collectively insults people every time he posts, acts condescending towards anyone who disagrees with him, constantly engages in ad hominem fallacies as a central argument, screams like a child at everyone who mildly upsets him.

      Lectures people on what constitutes ‘good manners’.

      Jesus Christ you have a lot of growing up to do.

    4. You just don’t like it that yours has little serious academic support.

      “How, exactly, do we STEM, again?” -serious academic support

    5. OK, Tony, what do you object to in the following:

      “the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”

  3. “Who in academia (or anywhere else in real life, for that matter) could possibly object to these principles?”

    I attended UChicago, the students there (the most vocal ones at least) opposed that statement in particular. The University issued that following a small panel with Dan Savage in 2014 (look it up in Reason) in which Savage used “the T-slur” and repeatedly misgendered a student (the student’s preferred pronouns were “it”). A not insignificant group of students launched a movement to ban hate speech, and the administrators got a committee together to write a report on free expression. It was kind of just a “fuck you” to the students who were upset.

    I’m on Team Free Speech, but good luck pushing these movements at colleges. Students know the “free speech” movement is a libertarian/conservative social policy, and the majority will always gravitate towards the other side.

    1. I love how Savage was the Girondin/Menshivik in this situation. He is a leading purveyor of politically-correct nonsense, but apparently he just wasn’t crazy enough for everyone the Left.

      1. How on earth is Dan Savage a leading purveyor of politically correct nonsense?

        1. Will You Stop Being Mean to Log Cabin Republicans? (Spoiler: No, I Will Not.)

          Republicans are evil – check.

          Gay Republicans are self-hating – check.

          Gay Republicans are sick – check.

          1. Welcome to America ? where bigoted bakers do background checks to avoid selling cakes to lesbians (because Jesus) but we don’t require merchants at gun shows to do background checks to avoid selling weapons of war to crazed terrorists, abusive spouses, and the mentally ill (because freedom).”

            Having to find another baker for your same-sex partner’s birthday cake is the worst thing ever – check.

            There oughtta be a law against this icky religious freedom stuff – check.

            There isn’t enough gun control – check.

            Sounds politically correct to me.

            1. Then I think you misunderstand the term. Hint, “politically correct” doesn’t equal “liberal.”

      2. everyone *on* the Left.

  4. Politeness has always been a weapon.

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