Free Speech

"Faculty Are Free to … Disagree with Any Policy … of the University … Without Being Subject to Discipline"

Words to live by from the President of the University of Chicago, in response to demands to punish a professor who spoke out against various "diversity, equity and inclusion" programs.


Here's an excerpt from the statement, by University president Robert J. Zimmer:

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law.  Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

That said, no individual member of the faculty speaks for the University as a whole on any subject, including on issues of diversity. In turn, the University will continue to defend vigorously any faculty member's right to publish and discuss his or her ideas….

The College Fix (Charles Hilu) has the background:

Associate Professor Dorian Abbot recently took on the push to hire women and underrepresented minorities rather than select the best candidate for the job, bias against Chinese and Christian students, and other hot-button topics, drawing the ire of protesting students who said the scholar made them feel unsafe.

But their efforts to get him sanctioned failed at the University of Chicago, considered the best university in the country for free speech….

UPDATE: Steven Hayward (Powerline) has more background; thanks to commenter Ed Grinberg for the pointer.

NEXT: Equal First Amendment Rights for Non-Media Speakers in Oregon

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  1. The Chicago Principles are a good guideline to college standards of conduct. Deviations from them should result in the revocation of all government privileges, grants and subsidies, on a per se basis. Misconduct should not be rewarded with these privileges.

  2. I agree with the Principles, full stop. But I hope they will not prevent persons who intend improper discrimination from being stripped of any power they may hold to make hiring/firing or admission decisions.

    1. It’s actually the other way around — I consider the Chicago Principles to be largely irrelevant because of 30 years of hiring/firing and admissions decisions.

      For decades the left’s attitude has been “they shall die” — that anyone who disagrees with them will be purged via attrition and that makes everything else irrelevant. And the discrimination is against free thinkers of all identity groups.

      1. Ahh yes, the Doomer attitude of ‘due to secret agendas at the top, there is no point in trying to change anything!’

        Seems like that whole purge plan isn’t really going great after 30 years, eh?

        1. Not very secret, and the purge has been doing very well for the left. But then, it depends on what you consider to be the left, and your outrage illustrates your politics very well.

        2. I’m outraged at people who are so partisan they’re not happy with groups addressing the issues of campus speech because they think the left controls everything.

  3. Feel unsafe? And therefore silence someone using the power of government.

    This is all vile downstream evolution from an absolutist First Amendment. Desires of those in power to silence opponents (or use yokels to silence on their behalf) tries to worm its way around the First Amendment.

    Still to come: brain scans of neural connection changes as evidence of physical damage, so big tech, silence my political opponent, or we will cancel section 230 and your stock will take a dive. Or a packed Supreme Court will allow it.

    1. China, or Egypt military dictatorship, and many other countries, when asked by naive westerners, why they censor, respond with “our people are not ready to see news from abroad without our filtering amd context, lest they or society be damaged.”

      Same thing.

    2. To be fair, the University of Chicago is a private institution, not the government.

      (Still, demanding an exercise of power in response to speech is wrong).

    3. “Feel unsafe? And therefore silence someone using the power of government.”

      You have a weird understanding of what constitutes the government if you think private universities are part of it.

      “Still to come: brain scans of neural connection changes as evidence of physical damage, so big tech, silence my political opponent, or we will cancel section 230 and your stock will take a dive. Or a packed Supreme Court will allow it.”

      I think anyone who understands what you’re trying to say here might need a brain scan.

  4. Let us remember
    that our Professor Volokh
    also picked Ted Cruz.

    1. Arthur…you have mastered haiku. I would like you to give villanelle, next. 🙂

      1. try, not give…duh!

    2. Mildly clever formatting doesn’t alter the fact: low signal to noise. And cumulatively, lower signal to noise ratio each time you post, Kirkland. The perils of being a troll with nothing to add to the conversation.

      1. Give this one a bit of time to percolate, grasshopper.

        1. Artie. Your comments show no evidence you attended law school. Are you working as a lawyer?

          1. Ask the Kraken-wranglers.

            Or the Elite Strike Force.

            Or the goobers from the Thomas More Society.

            Or Trump Election Litigation — Every Bit As Successful As Trump Airlines, Trump Foundation, Trump Steaks, Trump University, and Trump Re-Election.

          1. If you think that is haiku, think again. it is shit-poor prose.

  5. One wonders what would occur if student, staff, or faculty were made to feel unsafe by social ‘justice’ zealots and their relentless crusade for the aggressive lowering of intellectual and academic standards and seeking of ever-smaller perceived slights? I suspect that the answer is ‘some animals are more equal than others,’ but am a misanthrope. That aside, kudos to UC and Zimmer.

    1. I have suggested zero tolerance for PC or neo-Marxist indoctrination. Every such utterance should result in a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education, then to litigation against the school, for its hostile educational environment for white, male, het, and intelligent people. Any diversity training is hostile, and highly threatening t such people, and should be reported. Naturally all alumni should withhold donations after the smallest such utterance.

    2. Didn’t know conservative universities were considered social justice zealots. They have lower standards on average.

  6. Dog bites man. Film at 11:00.

  7. I, for one, am shocked that the University of Chicago permits epistemological violence on its campus.

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