The Volokh Conspiracy

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Campus Free Speech

A Radio Interview on Academic Freedom

WBUR's On Point dedicated an hour to a discussion of the threat to academic freedom on college campuses


I recently appeared on WBUR's radio talk show On Point hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti. The episode allowed for a wide ranging discussion of threats to academic freedom on college campuses and to the efforts of organizations like the Academic Freedom Alliance, which I chair, to push back.

Among the topics of discussion were the cases of Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois, Donna Hughes at the University of Rhode Island, and Tom Smith at the University of San Diego and the recent wave of "anti-CRT" legislation in the states.

From the interview:

I would hope the country as a whole gets better, as well, about tolerating dissent and the free expression of ideas. Universities ought to be leaders on that front. They ought to serve as an example that it's possible to tolerate people who disagree with you, and actually engage them constructively. And so it's terrible [that] universities, instead of being models for that kind of civil discourse, instead become models for cancel culture.

Moreover, if universities become places where certain ideas can't be explored constructively and with due diligence, the result is our scholarship will be worse, our education will be worse. We will not actually learn the truth about things. We will not understand the world as well as we should. And society as a whole will be worse off as a consequence because we won't be pushing forward the boundaries of human knowledge, which is what universities ought to be doing.

Listen to the whole thing here.