Campus Free Speech

Finally: University of Chicago Warns Freshmen Not to Expect Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings

Let's give Dean of Students John Ellison a round of applause.


U of Chicago
Public Domain

Many universities are caving to fragile students' demands for emotional protection from offensive speech. The University of Chicago isn't one of them.

In a welcome letter to the incoming Class of 2020, Dean of Students John Ellison gives students the truth: there will be no quarter from controversial ideas on campus. U of C has made an ironclad commitment to the First Amendment, and will not abide safe spaces, trigger warnings, and other kinds of limitations on what is considered acceptable discourse:

"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."

Ellison pulls no punches. "Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship," he writes. "At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort."

A university administrator forewarning students that they might actually be uncomfortable is so unheard of these days that I worried Ellison's letter was actually a fake—even though The Chicago Maroon retweeted it. So I emailed Ellison's office to confirm it.

"I can confirm that the letter is authentic," a U of C spokesperson told Reason.

Bravo, Chicago. Bravo.

Read the full letter here.