Campus Life Meeting:  Free Expression, Autumn 2018

Campus Life Meeting: Free Expression, Autumn 2018


MICHAEL HAYES: We’ve got
a really robust program this afternoon with vignettes
and video and some panelists. And we’re going to
discuss one of Chicago’s foundational values– free expression. Joining me on stage today are
four members of our community who will share their
experiences and perspectives on this very important value. With me are Daniel
Abebe, Vice Provost, and Harold J. And Marion
F. Green Professor of Law. AUDIENCE: Yes, oh, absolutely. MICHAEL HAYES: Matthew
Foldi, college class of 2018. Melissa Gilliam, Vice Provost,
Ellen H. Block Professor of Health Justice,
and Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics. And finally, Christopher Wild,
Master of Humanities Collegiate Division, Professor
of Germanic Studies, Theater and Performance
Studies, and the College. We will hear– yes,
give them a hand. That’s right. [APPLAUSE] We will hear from these
outstanding panelists throughout the program. I would now first
like to introduce you to Michelle Rasmussen, Dean
of Students in the University, who will offer greetings
and her thoughts on this important topic. As Dean of Students
in the University, Dean Rasmussen oversees
campus and student life, she’s my boss,
also known as CSL. CSL includes departments
and services and areas that focus on student
life and support, such as housing and residence
life, student health and counseling,
athletics and recreation. Dean Rasmussen works closely
with both Dean Boyer and Dean Ellison in the college
to develop and promote opportunities for students
for their intellectual, professional, and
personal growth. Please welcome Dean
Rasmussen to the stage. [APPLAUSE] MICHELE RASMUSSEN: So good
afternoon class of 2022. How are you all doing? [CHEERING] So on behalf of the over 300
staff in campus and student life, welcome to the
University of Chicago. We are delighted to see
you after the many months of planning and
preparation that I know you and your families have
dedicated to get here. Congratulations. [APPLAUSE] So why are we here
this afternoon? Creating and sustaining
an environment that actively encourages
the free and open expression and exchange of ideas
is a signature value at the University of Chicago. At Sunday’s opening convocation
in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, you had an opportunity to
hear President Zimmer describe how free expression is a
critical component of the kind of transformative and empowering
education UChicago’s known for. The goal of today’s
Campus Life meeting, is to illustrate how
the university’s values and aspirations
around free expression are likely to be experienced
by you, our newest students, and our best
students in the college. We’re very fortunate
today to have a fantastic panel of faculty and
alumni who will share their perspectives with you. Additionally, we’re
very pleased to welcome the executive leadership
of student government, who will present a series
of scenarios describing various ways free expression
manifests on our campus. My sincere hope is that
you will find the next hour interesting and informative. Thanks to all of you for your
attention and your engagement. And congratulations,
once again, on making the University of Chicago your
home for the next four years. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES:
Thank you, Michele. We are thrilled that you
could be here this afternoon. So to set the tone for
the rest of our program, I’d like to show
you our first video clip from a former UChicago
Law faculty member, let’s see what he says
about your next four years. BARACK OBAMA: The
purpose of college is not just, as I said
before, to transmit skills. It’s also to widen
your horizons, to make you a better
citizen, to help you to evaluate
information, to help you make your way
through the world, to help you be more creative. The way to do that is to create
a space where a lot of ideas are presented and collide and
people are having arguments, and people are testing
each other’s theories. And over time, people
learn from each other because they’re getting out of
their own narrow point of view and having a broader
point of view. So Arnie I’m sure has the
same experience that I did, which is, when I went
to college, suddenly there were some folks who
didn’t think at all like me. And if I had an opinion about
something, they’d look at me and say, well, that’s stupid. And then they’d describe
how they saw the world. And they might have had
different sense of politics. Or they might have a
different view about poverty. Or they might have a
different perspective on race. And sometimes their views
would be infuriating to me. But it was because there
was this space where you could interact with people
who didn’t agree with you, and had different backgrounds
than you, that I then started testing my own assumptions. And sometimes I changed my mind. Sometimes I realize, you
know what, maybe I’ve been too narrow minded. Maybe I didn’t take
this into account. Maybe I should see this
person’s perspective. So that’s what college,
in part, is all about. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES: Throughout
today’s program, there will be several video
clips by UChicago’s president Robert Zimmer, whom
you met earlier during O-Week and Michele
referenced from convocation. As you will come to
know, President Zimmer plays a national role as an
expert and a champion related to free expression. Under his leadership,
the university has become a national
international model among higher education for
safeguarding free speech and expression. As you entered today, you
were handed a postcard outlining the
Chicago Principles. Please refer to this card
as we talk this afternoon. But now, let’s hear
President Zimmer as he puts the values
of free expression in some historical context
and discusses the Chicago Principles. As you likely know,
given the recent press, these principles
have been adopted by countless institutions
across the country and in Canada as their guide post
for free expression. ROBERT J. ZIMMER:
Now, let me turn to the second topic, second
question, namely the Chicago Principles, which are a forceful
statement of one universities commitment to free expression. Unlike all the universities
in the United States that preceded it, except
for Johns Hopkins, the University of
Chicago was established as a research institution
from its very inception. From its early days, the
leadership and faculty of the university
articulated the importance of free expression to its
missions of rigorous inquiry and providing an education
that was embedded in intellectual challenge. Throughout its
history, the university has stood against suppression
of speech with its faculty and many of its presidents– William Rainey Harper, Robert
Maynard Hutchins, Edward Levi, and Hanna Gray as key examples–
playing visible leadership roles. It was in this
historical context, and against the backdrop of
shifts in the American Academy, over the past decade, that in
July 2014 charged the faculty committee, chaired by
University of Chicago Law Professor, Geoffrey Stone, the
committee was charged with, and now I’m quoting,
“articulating the University’s
over-arching commitment to free, robust, and
uninhibited debate and deliberation among all
members of the University community.” Closed quote. In other words,
the committee was asked to provide a
concrete statement that encapsulated the underlying
and broadly understood culture and views on free expression
at the University of Chicago, a culture that had been
present at the University for well over a century. In response, the Stone
committee put forth a thoughtful, powerful,
and clear articulation of the University’s stance,
laying out a set of principles now becoming known as
the Chicago Principles. And I want to summarize
three such principles from the report. The first principle
is a statement of unwavering commitment
to free expression. And I’ll quote a somewhat
sizable section of this. And I’m quoting now. “The University’s fundamental
commitment is to the principal that debate or
deliberation may not be suppressed because
the ideas put forward are thought by
some, or even 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 judgements
for themselves. And to act on those
judgements, 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.” In the same vein, relevant to
some current considerations, it states– and again, quoiting– “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 the community.” MICHAEL HAYES: So we’re going
to turn to our panelists, Chris and Melissa. President Zimmer talks of
this relentless pursuit of the idea of free expression. Why is that important to
the University of Chicago? CHRISTOPHER WILD:
I’m going to answer sort of as a scholar of the
German intellectual history, and I would say,
it’s in our DNA. University of Chicago
was one of a handful of American
universities that was built on the model of the
German research university. And that so-called
Humboldtian model, the model of the
Humboldt University, really was built
on three tenets. The first one was research– the primacy of research in
the pursuit of knowledge– really research
for its own sake, which was an entirely
new idea at the time. The second was the unity
of teaching and research. And the third was the freedom
of teaching and learning. And so it’s really
is encapsulated by this notion of the freedom
of inquiry that Harper and Hutchins, and
of course, also President Zimmer, talk about. And in the German
case, it really led to the probably
arguably greatest flowering of Arts and Sciences setting
really the stage for luminaries like Albert Einstein, Werner
Heisenberg, Justus Liebig, et cetera, et cetera. And which was then,
of course, also a torch that was
passed on to the United States and the American
university system. And I should also not
forget that, you know, the Germans in 1933
abandoned those values that under right that kind of
model of intellectual inquiry. But you know, it’s not only
in our DNA or in our past, it’s really also in our presence
or future, I would argue. I think we’re at a critical
historical juncture, where if I, again use examples
from my own background, and I come from Germany,
countries like Hungary or Poland are at the
moment exactly abandoning these values. And I think it falls to us
at the University of Chicago, and other institutions
all over the world really, to uphold those values
that also of course then ricochet back into
wider society. MICHAEL HAYES: Thanks. Melissa? MELISSA GILLIAM: So to
look at this in more of– in a contemporary way,
and my own experience as a scholar of the University
of Chicago, as you heard, I’m an obstetrician
gynecologist. But my research is in
reproductive health rights and justice. And when I talk to colleagues
of mine across the country, they really talk
about whether there are types of scholarships,
sometimes even when you go to get funding, you
will hear people question, oh, should they be able to
do that type of research? And one of the things that I
value about being a researcher and scholar at the
University of Chicago is that people do not
question or shut you down because that is
your area of study. When in the provost’s
office, when we go and look at people as they get tenure,
we don’t worry about the topic. We want them to be excellent at
whatever they choose to pursue. So the ability to
study what you want, and to ask and have inquiry
on the topics that you want, is very unique and special at
this institution and something to be preserved. MICHAEL HAYES: Thanks, Melissa. Matthew, as a recent
graduate, any thoughts? MATTHEW FOLDI:
Well, thanks, Mike. And welcome everyone to
the University of Chicago, and welcome to a gym for what
may very well be your last time in your four years here. MICHAEL HAYES: I hope not. MATTHEW FOLDI: I’m
not recommending that. But it’s nice to be on this
panel because all I did was graduate from here. But on the note of
the student’s side, I think the relentless
pursuit of inquiry is really evident in the core
curriculum, which many of you will come to love
and love even more. And I think that
the requirements to take so many
different classes across many different
fields makes sure that when you do leave here,
as I did just three months ago, makes sure that you leave here
with a well-rounded education across all fields. And then within the fields
that you choose to study, like Melissa was
saying, there is nothing that’s really off limits here. And I think that’s important
because as much as we think that we do know right
now, there’s so much left to be undiscovered. And if people are denied
research opportunities, scholarship opportunities,
because something seems unpopular at the
time, you never know if you’re going to miss
solving the next world problem. And from my understanding
on the faculty and the research side at
University of Chicago, that’s something that
absolutely doesn’t happen here. But from the students
side, there’s so much knowledge that
is not off limits, whereas in other colleges, that
might not be as easy to obtain. MICHAEL HAYES:
Thank you very much. We’re going to move into
our first student vignette. Here’s the situation– with
current events playing out on campus, Laverne
Cox is invited by a student
organization on campus to give a speech about the
history of the transgender community or the historically
marginalized place that they occupy on
a college campus. Let’s give a listen. PRESENTER: So who is this
Laverne Cox person anyways? PRESENTER: How do you not
know who Laverne Cox is? Uh, don’t you know she’s
the transgender hairdresser on Orange Is the New Black? PRESENTER: Oh, OK,
sure, whatever. So what’s she on
campus for anyway? What’s she going to
be speaking about? PRESENTER: She’s going
to talk about the history of transgender people and
the discrimination they faced on college campuses. PRESENTER: OK, so
it’s going to be one of those kinds of speeches
where a super liberal person comes onto our campus
and tries to shove their ridiculous leftist
ideology down all of the normal people’s throats? I guess that’s how it is, right? PRESENTER: Yo, like,
come on, it’ll be fun. [LAUGHTER] I think we need to
give her a shot. And maybe it will open you
up to a new perspective. PRESENTER: All right,
fine, I’ll come. But if it’s terrible,
I’m blaming you. PRESENTER: I can deal with that. PRESENTER: We’re reporting
to you live with reaction to Laverne Cox’s speech
on UChicago’s campus where she advocated
for drastic reforms to the way college campuses
treat transgender students and transgender issues. What are your thoughts? PRESENTER: Well, to
be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like it
at all when I was going in. But the way that
she approached it with such raw passion
and emotional appeal, I think it was fantastic. And definitely think we have
to re-envision the way that we address transgender
issues on college campuses because it’s important. PRESENTER: Great, thank you. What about you? PRESENTER: I think she told
a super compelling story and really got her point
across in a great way. But at the same time, I don’t
agree with a lot of her policy prescriptions. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES: Give
it up for your– AUDIENCE: Good actors, wow. MICHAEL HAYES: Thank you all. So here we have the
case of a speaker invited by an RSO, a Recognized
Student Organization. This program has been designed
for the specific purpose of hearing someone’s
perspective and who also enjoys their own
rights of free expression. So the question to
the panel– a couple questions to the panelists. Matthew, how is it that
speakers get invited to campus? MATTHEW FOLDI: Thanks. So I ran College Republicans
for almost four years. And I went to many
of those talks. Namely, my second
year on my first day of school, Bernie
Sanders came and spoke in Rockefeller Chapel. And I attended. And it was interesting. I don’t think I agreed
with him on anything. But I think that that
spirit does animate everyone at the University of Chicago,
which you don’t find elsewhere. And I think this question
is very important because there is a huge
misconception about speakers and college campuses. So I saw on the
slides here earlier about Professor Zingales
inviting Steve Bannon last year. There was so much of
a perception that– the University of Chicago
invites Steve Bannon. Of course, that’s not true. The University of Chicago
invites almost no speakers. You know, you have the
convocation speaker, the class day speaker. But RSO’s, student
organizations, invite speakers. And you go through,
at times it can be as easy as having them
come to your meeting. Last year, we had Anthony
Scaramucci come to campus and we worked with
CLI to make sure the logistics all worked out. But on campus, it’s important
to have the perspective that in the 1930s, when
Bernie’s ideas were not as popular in
American higher ed, no one would have William
Foster, at the time, the Communist Party Presidential
Candidate, on campus because no one wanted
to support communism. And UChicago hosted him
when no one else would. So it’s important
to keep in mind that ideas that
seem popular today were actively suppressed
by colleges elsewhere, like during the Red Scare,
Yale’s President said, there will be no witch hunts for
communists here because there won’t be any witches. So having that understanding
of the importance of hearing from all viewpoints
because at some point, your viewpoint might be
suppressed, is very important. And rest assured, that has
never happened, I think, at this university. And we should be very
thankful for that. MICHAEL HAYES: Thank you. Daniel, two part–
well, actually it’s– I read it this
morning, actually, it’s a three part question. But given the high
profile events, and we saw some of those
headlines on the screen, high profile events on college
campuses this past year, would the university ever
dis-invite a speaker? And the second part of
that question would be, can anybody just simply show up? DANIEL ABEBE: So to
the first question, there’s a really straightforward
answer, and the answer is no. The University does not
dis-invite speakers. Now, I should say that I’m a
professor at the Law School, and one habit that
we have as lawyers is to complicate things
just a little bit. So while the university or
university administrators will not get involved and
dis-invite any speaker, obviously, a professor
who has invited a speaker, or a student group
that’s invited a speaker, can decide that indeed they
want to reschedule the speaker, or postpone it, or
otherwise cancel it. But they do that based on
their own determinations, not because University
has been involved, not because
University’s told them that the speech of the relevant
speaker is somehow problematic. So to that question,
no the university does not dis-invite speakers. To the second point, can
anyone just show up here? No. We have policies and procedures
to formally invite speakers. I think you referenced
earlier the RSOs, or registered student
organizations. And if indeed a registered
student organization were to invite a
speaker, that speaker could then come, assuming
the speaker attends at the right place and the
right time and all of that. But can any speaker
just show up, no. MICHAEL HAYES: Great. I guess I’ll open it up to
any of the folks up here. The other piece of
that is, so what are the options if
a student disagrees with a speaker or
an issue, and they want to express that
in some capacity? Anyone want to tackle that? MATTHEW FOLDI: Well, just to add
on real quick– there is also a misperception that when
someone speaks on campus the university is then endorsing
their viewpoint by providing a platform for them. But this makes no
sense because look at the faculty who the
university pays to teach here. Is there any world in
which all of the faculty with conflicting
viewpoints are all having their viewpoints entirely
endorsed by the University? Of course not. So just because someone
speaks on campus, or is invited on campus, is no
means an endorsement of what they’re saying, their entire
body of work, or anything But to the most recent
question, if there is an event that you don’t like– in my second or third year,
the Westboro Church briefly appeared, and the advice
given at the time was– the worst thing for them is
to completely ignore them because they sort of
thrive off of attention of people shouting at them. And so of course, we have
the option of ignoring them, which is what they
really don’t want. And then you have the
option, obviously, of hosting your counter-rally. So at the time,
there were a bunch of sort of anarchists
on one side of the street, the
Westboro Baptist Church on the other
side of the street. And then I was on the
other side of the street like, I think you all
have the right to be here, but I’m sort of disagreeing
with everyone here. But you, absolutely– you
can host counter events, you can protest the event,
you can ignore the event, you can research things. I mean, you have really
no shortage of options. I think it’s sort of portrayed
as a dichotomy of like, the event happens or you shut it
down, whereas of course, that’s not the case. MICHAEL HAYES: Anybody else? CHRISTOPHER WILD:
Yeah, I just want to reiterate that the corollary
of us not dis-inviting a speaker and letting them
speak is the right to protest. That is also encompassed
by free expression. So in fact, I think that is
to be overall encouraged. Both Daniel and I
actually recently served on the Committee
on the Discipline for Disruptive Conduct. And one of the things that
we wanted to also make clear in our committee
work is that protest is a form of free expression. And as long as it’s not
disruptive, it’s our right and it is also something that
is part of a vibrant campus culture and an
exchange of ideas. MELISSA GILLIAM: I
think one other thing I would add is, there’s
also an opportunity to form groups and start to
think about your own ideas and how those
ideas might differ. And so sometimes this takes
the form of a teacher in, or an alternative
venue, or a symposium. But often, those views give
you an opportunity to shape and understanding and create
your own views and spread them. DANIEL ABEBE: And
one short final thought, the best way
to engage a speaker with whom you disagree is to
go to the event and speak. Ask questions,
engage the speaker. And it doesn’t
have to necessarily be outside the event
where you protest, or having a counter event. You can very well go there,
and ask your question, and make your case,
and engage the person. And many of the events
are structured for that. So don’t forget that
that’s always an option. And it’s really
core to what we do at the University of Chicago,
which is to encourage a vibrant, healthy discourse. And engaging the
speaker is a great way to show your disapproval
and your disagreement with what the person has to say. MATTHEW FOLDI: I would
add really quickly, that there are schools that
have policies where you have a mandatory wait period after
an event, during which you have to wait to host a
counter demonstration. So there was a state school
that after 9/11 happened, students were told they
had to wait, like, 48 hours to have any event on
campus to mourn 9/11. So there are so many
policies that schools use to suppress protected speech
that again, we don’t have here. MICHAEL HAYES: On the front
of your card with the Chicago Principles is a quote. But it’s from
Hanna Holborn Gray. “Education should
not be intended to make people comfortable; it
is meant to make them think.” And there’s a little
more elaboration on your card in front of you. This is an important notion. We want to dig a little further
into this particular quote. And we’re going to
hear from, first, from Jay Ellison, the Dean
of Students in the College, and then, secondly, from
Professor Geoff Stone, whom Bob Zimmer, President
Zimmer actually referenced in his talk– his
initial comments when he was speaking at Colgate. And as we know, from
President Zimmer’s comments, Geoff Stone was the
chair and the author of the report on the
Committee for Free Expression. And so we’re going hear– see
a couple of videos of then we’re going to come
back to the panelists. JAY ELLISON: So I’m
Jay Ellison, I’m the Dean of Students
in the College. I want to welcome you to the
University and to the College, in particular. This is a wonderful opportunity
for you, and for us, to have you here. As I’ve said in my letters
of welcome and introduction, this is a place that we
want you to ask questions. We want you to debate and argue. We want you to think
about what we’re saying. And we want to think
about what you’re saying. This is an opportunity not for
us to teach you what to think, but how to think. How to be critical. How to analyze the
information that comes to you. And as you do that,
there’ll be times that you will be uncomfortable. That’s just part of the
educational experience. But we want to be
careful to distinguish, and I encourage you to
distinguish, between being uncomfortable and harm. They are different. When we talk, and we think
critically about things, we are really
thinking about words, and we’re thinking about
ideas, critically analyzing the things that come before us. But we’re not intending harm. What we are doing is at times
being very uncomfortable and pushing our comfort levels. But words are important. And words and how we think about
them and how we analyze them are important. And that’s very, very different. And this is an
opportunity for you to do that, both
with your peers, with your fellow students,
with the faculty, and with the staff– to have these opportunities
to really expand, to think, and to analyze critically. GEOFFREY R. STONE: I
believe that a central part of my responsibility
as a teacher, and a central part of the
responsibility of a university or college, with
its students, is to prepare our students to be
effective, courageous citizens in the real world. To have the intellectual
skills and the personality to be able to stand
up for oneself. To defend one’s positions. To explain why others are wrong. And not to cower,
or to be afraid, or to be reluctant to engage
in intellectual combat. I think our job is to
make good citizens. And good citizens
or people who are capable of having courage
and defending their views. And I worry that the impetus for
a lot of the censorship today is basically saying, I don’t
want to be in that position. I don’t want to
have to fight back. And that, I think,
asks universities to do exactly what they’re
not supposed to do. On the other hand,
I do think we have to be cognizant of
the fact that we want universities to be places
in which people are civil. That’s a value
that is important, not to the point of censorship,
but as an aspiration. It’s something universities
should encourage. And I think we also have
to be aware of the fact that it is tough to be a student
in an environment in which all of your ideas are open to
challenge and to question. And that universities have
to be cognizant of the fact that they want to
be able to make sure students can flourish
in the institution. The idea is not to
destroy students, it’s to strengthen them. And therefore, I think we
have to think about situations in which it may be that there
is a really difficult situation created for students. Now that does not ever, in
my view, mean censorship. But it might mean support
in a variety of ways, maybe counseling in
a variety of ways. I don’t think we should simply
blind ourselves to the fact that life is hard. And not all of our students
are capable of dealing with it equally. And therefore, it is important
to be attentive to the fact that we need to nurture the
kind of values in our students that we want them to
have upon graduation. MICHAEL HAYES: So Melissa, one
could argue that many times– they would argue
that many times they believe that the value
of free expression and the value of diversity
inclusion are in conflict. What are your
thoughts about that? MELISSA GILLIAM: So I don’t
think they’re in conflict. I think they’re necessary. If you have free
expression and everybody thinks the exact same
thing, it’s pretty boring and doesn’t really meet
the needs of a university. So the two are really essential. However, we’ve been talking
a lot about diversity of perspectives, and
being able to listen to people who have different
perspectives than those that you might hold. And that’s critically important. I think what you start
to hear towards– in Dr. Stone’s– Professor Stone’s speech is that
there is also this other piece around identity and experience. And I think, on the
one hand we haven’t talked about that
as much, this idea that sometimes when you are
hearing things or hearing things that are unpleasant, it’s
not only the perspective you’re hearing, it is the way that you
hear it based on who you are and what your past
experiences are may be a very different
experience than another person. So Geoff Stone used the
word capacity– different capacities to listen to things. I don’t like the idea that
somehow as a person of color, I am less capable of
listening to things. In fact, I tend to think
that I’m a lot tougher than most people because
of many of the things that I experienced. On the other hand, I
don’t want to listen– I won’t necessarily want to
listen to those things all day. And so first, I
want to reassure you that you will not be
listening to this constantly. People are not constantly
challenging your perspectives or your views, or
somehow, your experience. But I do want to reassure
you that you can step aside. There are times when
you’ll say, I just do not have the bandwidth
to do this right now. I don’t want to be engaged
in that conversation. And what I’ve loved to see,
is that over time, by the time you see students who are second
and third years, their ideas, their sharpness,
their way of thinking is really, really pronounced. And even sometimes,
they’re arguing with you, you actually listen
with a lot of respect. So we do have to
distinguish and think about what it means
to be a person from a different
experience and how some of the things
that you might say may be experienced
by that person. So it also emphasized
this idea that when you make your perspective heard,
there are ways of doing it. You can do it with kindness
and thoughtfulness. And you can also take the time
to listen to the other person, and not just say, you
must think what I think. You can also say, I wonder
how you perceive that? So as we’re sort of
thinking about this dynamic and this dialectic that I
think is critical to have a diverse community, also
think about our roles as listeners and as people
who are compassionate, and thoughtful, and humanistic,
and caring about one another. MICHAEL HAYES: Chris,
any other thoughts? CHRISTOPHER WILD:
Well, I’m going to model for you a little bit,
sort of University of Chicago debate, because I’m going
to disagree somewhat with what Melissa
was saying and just point out that I think
that there is also, of course, an
inherent contradiction or a tension between both
free expression and diversity and inclusion. In one way, one could say that
what the university is trying to do is create what you
could call a free speech commons, a common space to which
everyone has access to exercise their right of free speech. And in that sense,
it’s very inclusive. But at the same time,
of course, it also allows for offensive
statements that may actually drive people
away out of that very arena, so to say. And so it’s something
that I think we need to negotiate continually. I mean, Professor Stone
spoke about civility as an aspiration. Obviously, practicing
civic discourse is something that
we’re, I think, engaged in daily, whether
it’s in the classroom, or outside of the classroom. What we’re doing right now– listening, taking
each other seriously, but disrespectful agreeing. But as I said, there
are some tensions there. Another tension would
be is that not everyone has access in equal ways to
this free speech commons. And again, we all
have to work to make sure that so to say
that space in which we can dialogue with each other
is accessible to everyone. And there is not symmetries
and differentials of power. Although, of course,
again, and you can hear the professor
in me, also, again, that is an illusion. And there is always going
to be these kind of power differentials. But again, I think
we can work on that. And we need to work on it. And we need to be continually
cognizant of what we are doing, what the effects are of our
utterances, of our statements, our claims. And I certainly am when
I’m in the classroom. MICHAEL HAYES: Great. Thank you. Matthew, what are your
thoughts about hate speech. And shouldn’t that be
excluded from free expression protections? MATTHEW FOLDI: This is
also another misconception amongst a lot of people. There’s a sort of slogan that
hate speech is not free speech. But under the First
Amendment, it is free speech. The Supreme Court,
the courts, have been incredibly reluctant
to ever really classify hate speech in America. And while people sometimes think
there’s sort of a gray area of, oh, is that speech
might be protected. Well, legally, it’s
usually very clear that speech is or
is not protected. So it should not be
exempted, mainly, because, especially in America,
there is no concept legally of what it is. I mean, you might deem
something hate speech. And Facebook was sort of
experimenting with this. And people were just labeling
everything hate speech. And I think they might not
use that feature anymore. But in Europe, they have
very strict hate speech laws. And those are very
frequently used to target political opponents
of the government, used to target comedians– there
are several far left comedians in France, who I’m
pretty sure are in prison for comments they’ve made either
in shows or on social media. The far left, the far right,
I’m sure people in the center as well, have been prosecuted
under hate speech laws. So we should be very
thankful that we don’t have a ban on hate speech. But also keep in mind the term
itself is sort of subjective because we don’t
have a definition of what that even is. So it’s often said,
it’s not free speech. But it is. MICHAEL HAYES: Melissa, I
want to circle back with you just quick. You briefly touched on
it about how people– and folks and students
specifically– what message they should
take away about unplugging or disengaging periodically. And what that might look
like as Professor Stone implied in his comments. MELISSA GILLIAM: Sure. So we’ve talked about this
tension between free speech and diversity and that
sometimes in this process you don’t feel included. But there are lots
of spaces on campus where people can feel included. So there is a Center for
Identity and Inclusion. There are your RSOs. There are your houses. There are relationships
that you’ll have with your peers
and your faculty. You can step out of– we kind of talk
about the commons– you can step off the
commons and find times where you do feel like
you are with people who have similar views. And what’s great about that
is that’s often a time where you work your ideas out. And then when you go back
into these other debates, or there’s these
other moments, it’s a time again for that
dialogue and that interchange. MICHAEL HAYES: Great. Thank you very much. We’re going to pivot just a
bit with our second vignette. It’s week one of
the autumn quarter, three students are having a
conversation about a poster posted on the quad. Let’s take a listen. PRESENTER: Hey, did you see
that crazy poster put up on Cobb yesterday? PRESENTER: Yeah, wasn’t that
one of our Soc professors? PRESENTER: Wait,
wait, wait– what are you guys talking about? PRESENTER: Someone has
been putting up posters specifically
targeting professors for being anti-Israel. Isn’t that terrible? Shouldn’t we take them down? PRESENTER: Well, no. I mean, isn’t that free speech? I mean, people should be
able to say whatever they want to even if it is stupid. Maybe we could just
make a poster that says the opposite of
whatever they’re saying and put it up next to it. PRESENTER: I don’t think that
counts as free expression. I mean, this is specifically
targeting individuals on campus. PRESENTER: You know what? We better contact Campus and
Student Life just to be sure. PRESENTER: Also contact BEST. PRESENTER: What’s BEST? [LAUGHTER] PRESENTER: The Bias
Education and Support Team. It’s the same number
as the Dean on Call. MICHAEL HAYES: Cool. Thank you. AUDIENCE: They’re very good. MICHAEL HAYES: Thank you. Here we have a poster that’s
posted on a kiosk outside, I think it was Cobb Hall, is
that right, where you all were? That names a faculty
member by name. One might ask,
does the university have a role in
removing that poster? It’s important to note
a couple of things. There are many,
many situations that arise when organizations
or individuals place flyers on campus that
might be deemed offensive by some or by many. There’s a university
posting policy that students should
know and understand. It clearly outlines when and
if a posting might be removed. So you should get to know that. It is in your student manual. I’m sure that you’ve
read that from cover to cover at this point, which
you can find your student manual on the UChicago website. So I would recommend
that you go and look because the posting policy is
there and it’s outlined there. I believe it’s also important
to note one thing here too is that the university does not
have any policies governing the content of
what students hang in their personal space in their
private residence hall rooms and that sort of thing. However, we wanted to also
remind you, or point out, that sometimes there are
consequences even though we can’t, or your
friends won’t ask you, or you are asked
to take it down. We’re not going to do that. Displaying items, such as the
poster, that other folks might find offensive inside your tight
knit community of your house or your living unit might not
be free of those consequences. And so the social isolation
and the conversations that we are discussing here
and taking on those issues is really important. And that can happen. So Matthew, I’m going to
start with you quickly. If posters that other
folks find offensive are placed on campus at
large, what should students consider as a response? MATTHEW FOLDI: Sure. And just real quick, the
second thing you said is also important. Just because you can say
anything however you want, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you can
invite anyone to campus, doesn’t mean you should. And you can interpret
that however you want, for it’s not productive,
it’s not interesting, whatever. But that’s interesting. You can do a lot of
things in general, doesn’t mean that
you should do them. But on posters– I had the
opposite my first year. I was– Yik Yak is a little
beyond your guys’ time. It doesn’t exist anymore. But it was an anonymous app
that you could post anything on. And this echoes what
Dean Ellison was saying, that words are important. So I had people
sort of attacking me for being pro-Israel,
which is fair. I mean, if you
have opinions, then you can be criticized for them. It’s not like what
you say is flawless. And but then where then it
legally, and however you want to say it,
became a problem was when it sort of was escalating. Then it became sort of highly
targeted death threats. So that speech is, of
course, not protected. But I mean, it was
unpleasant, of course. Just refreshing Yik Yak,
and it’s like, oh, you know, Matthew sucks at
math, which is true. Then other negative, more
negative things than that. And then it was
like, whoa, OK, I have to take this to the police. But so regarding posters,
generally, anonymous speech is obviously very important. It’s been very important
in American history. I think we’re overstating
how important fliers are, trust me I’ve fired for events. And no one reads them. But in general, you
shouldn’t take down flyers. And it’s a good thing that we
don’t have a policy governing what flyers can and can’t be
posted because at some point then everything can be
taken down at some point. I think that’s a general way
of looking at free speech. If you start banning things
beyond what the law allows to not be protected, at some
point, everything is banned, everyone is on their
own little island, and we all live lives of social
isolation, which you know, no one at UChicago
would want, of course. So I think that when you see
a poster that you don’t like, move on. You can put up another poster
saying nice things about– if it’s an individual
on the poster. Have another event if it’s about
an event that you don’t like. Or just realize at
the end of the day that poster’s covered
in other posters, probably no one will
have even seen it. And go back to doing work. Or come to the gym. So I think it’s a good
thing that we don’t have strict guidelines about that. MICHAEL HAYES: Do you all have
any other thoughts on that? CHRISTOPHER WILD: I was going to
reiterate– just wait two days and it’s going to be covered. MICHAEL HAYES: That’s right. We’re going to listen
again to President Zimmer with a little bit more
about the Chicago Principles. And then we’ll come
back to our panelists. ROBERT J. ZIMMER:
The second principle is that the University
recognizes, indeed embraces, non-disruptive protest
as a legitimate means of free expression,
and as such, supports the rights of all members
of the University community to engage in such protest around
whatever issues they wish. The third principle
in the report articulates that disruptive
protests, or other means of limiting the rights of others
to engage in free expression, work, and open discourse is
not acceptable, and in fact, is a violation of the
University’s commitment to free expression. The distinction between
disruptive and non-disruptive protest is essential. Preventing others from
speaking and listening is arrogating to ones self
the right of free expression but denying it to others. MICHAEL HAYES: So Daniel,
how does the university define disruptive conduct
in this particular context. DANIEL ABEBE: That’s
a very good question. President Zimmer said it well–
preventing others from speaking and an audience
being able to listen, is at its core engaging
disruptive conduct. But it’s of course, much
more complicated than that. So you can imagine the
traditional setting in which a speaker is
invited and that speaker is trying to communicate
a particular set of views to an audience. Students, for example, who show
up using noise amplification, for example, or have signs
to block the speaker, or in any way impair the
ability of the audience to hear the speaker
or the speaker to communicate a set of views
is indeed disrupting the event. But it’s hard to limit it to
this particular environment because you can imagine
events being experiential. So for example, if
there’s an event that requires kind of
communal participation in order for the speaker to
communicate a particular set of views or ideas. Let’s say it has an
artistic component. Then students might be
able to disrupt conduct in a completely different
way that’s not necessarily driven by sound or
by physical presence. There could be forms
of disruptive conduct in which students or others
block the entrance or the exit to a particular space. So there are many ways in
which, on a context based understanding, disruptive
conduct could occur. But it’s also important
to think of the difference between disruptive and
non-disruptive conduct that’s healthy and appropriate. So for example, people
can attend an event and engage a speaker. They can also attend an event
wearing particular t-shirts. They can also attend an event
and engage in a silent vigil. They can also attend
an event and have signs that don’t block
the ability of the speaker to communicate to the
audience or the audience to participate fully in
understanding the speaker’s views. So there are different
ways of engaging here. And so disruptive
conduct at its core is preventing or
impairing the ability of a speaker to communicate
and the audience to hear. But that’s not limited to that. And we try to be sensitive to
ensure that there is indeed opportunity for protest
that doesn’t rise to the level of disruption. MICHAEL HAYES: Great. Thank you very much. We’re going to move
to our final vignette. During a history
course, a Professor shows the Nazi propaganda
film, Triumph of the Will. After the conclusion
of the film, the professor
begins to highlight the important academic
points within the film. Let’s see what’s happening. PRESENTER: So as you
can see, the film contains a lot of nationalist
imagery, nationalist language, nationalist phrases, and
a similar kind of language and style and approach was
actually used in the 2016 election by President Trump. PRESENTER: Whoa,
whoa, whoa, whoa! How dare you? How dare you compare our
President, our President Trump to Hitler– Hitler an evil fascist
murdering dictator to President Trump, who works
hard for us every single day– a genius, Playboy,
philanthropist, billionaire. [APPLAUSE] If you’re so fond
of comparisons, then why don’t I go
ahead and compare say, Hillary Clinton to Hitler? How would you like that? PRESENTER: Yeah, what the hell? [LAUGHTER] You cannot use the deaths of
my grandparents and relatives to further [LAUGHTER] to further
your own political agenda. PRESENTER: Hang on. I understand where you
guys are coming from. But I think we really need
to have this conversation. Let’s start by discussing– PRESENTER: No, we are not
going to discuss this. You are standing on the graves
of billions of people who died each with their own families. You’re a damn bully. PRESENTER: Yeah, you need to
apologize for your actions. And if you don’t, I’m going
to go to the Dean of Students, the one true source of news,
Fox News, and Sean Hannity, and anybody who will listen. PRESENTER: Hang
on, hang on, guys. I understand where you guys
are coming from, again. But I really believe we need
to have this conversation. PRESENTER: Well,
I refuse, and you can’t push me around or shove
your propaganda down my throat. Because we, all of us, are going
to make America great again. [APPLAUSE] PRESENTER: I’m sorry, but
you’re being disruptive. And I’m going to have
to ask you to leave the classroom because you’re
disrupting the learning environment for
the other students. PRESENTER: Fine. PRESENTER: If you want
to have this discussion, come to my office hours. [SIDE CONVERSATION] [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES: Professor
Stone, whom we recently met, is careful to point out that
free speech works differently in the classroom because
of the professor’s ability to conduct the class and the
exercise of academic freedom. Let’s listen. GEOFFREY R. STONE: Well,
first of all, professors shouldn’t be uncivil
or disrespectful to their students. But at the same
time, the real world will not protect people
from that type of upset. And therefore, I think
we do a grave disservice to our students by creating a
safe space of a university that shields them from ugliness, and
from discord, and from insult when it exists in the world. Again, my view is the
point of education is to prepare students
to be effective citizens. Effective citizens
cannot be thin skinned. And that doesn’t
mean I think faculty should be abusive to
students for the sake of it. But I also think that this is
part of the reality of life. And one might imagine
a Peter Pan world in which there is no reality,
but that’s not our world. And I want my students to be
able to go into that world and to be fearless and to
be able to take challenge and insult. They shouldn’t,
ideally, in the ideal world, they shouldn’t. But that’s the world
in which we live. And I don’t want
our students to be shielded from things that they
have to learn how to deal with. MICHAEL HAYES: So
Chris and Daniel, it appears that in the vignette,
that the professor was in the midst of pointing out
a very clear relationship in the material to the subject
when he was interrupted. Chris, were the students
out of line there? CHRISTOPHER WILD:
Yeah, I’m not sure that I would call it out of line
because that implies that there is a clear line that
they can step over and they know
where that line is. And I think that my experience
is that the line is constantly moving. But I do believe that clearly
the behavior was inappropriate, or wasn’t up to, in some
sense, you could say also, academic standards. They changed the register. Instead of debating what the
professor said on its merits, they immediately
personalized it. It became a question of
identity and personal insult rather than interrogating
actually the claim. Now, I also have to say,
particularly as a German, and as a Germanist,
I’m always a little careful making a
comparison to Nazi Germany. And so I may have treaded more
lightly in that situation. But given that, I
think I would certainly try to bring it back
to an academic debate where we basically challenge
another person’s claim based on the, in this case,
the textual material evidence on the validity
of the arguments rather than immediately
personalizing it. And if a student feels
offended by, nevertheless feels offended, then I
think probably the office hour is the right venue. But certainly I would try to
work very hard to bring it back to a different register
than this kind of the register that the students chose. MICHAEL HAYES: Great. Thanks. Daniel, how might you
respond in this situation? And is there a way for
students to raise concerns? DANIEL ABEBE: Yes. So I’ll just say before, as
a preface to the question, I think in the vignette,
the teacher might have touched the students. So I wouldn’t do that. So and that’s
probably an exuberance of doing the vignette. So that’s probably a step
that I think all of us as faculty members wouldn’t do. But how would we respond to
that particular situation? Well, all of these presents
themselves in different ways. That’s one particular context. And we are all teaching
different material. And there are different
sets of issues that might result in the kind of
conversation that we saw there. I initially would
respond by trying to empathize with the
student and understand a particular set of concerns. But then emphasize
also that this is a classroom environment. And this is the opportunity
for all students to be able to engage
on the material that I’m trying to convey. And in some ways, the professor
has to make a determination about what material is in
and what material is out, what’s connected to the relevant
lecture or topic and what isn’t. So I would try to bring the
conversation to that place. If that’s unsuccessful, then I
would emphasize my availability to have a conversation outside
the context of the class about the particular material–
why it was problematic to that particular student
or to a number of students. And then provide a place for it. So I would say, I
would be happy to have this conversation
in office hours, as Chris indicated,
outside of class, in any other setting
where we could have a conversation about the
materials that doesn’t impair my ability and the
student’s ability to talk about the
materials for the day. MICHAEL HAYES: Great. Thank you very much. So as we think
about all of this, we want to hear once again
from former President Obama. He reminds us that the
best strategy is not to shut others down– or to shut
others out or shut them down no matter how much we
disagree with them. Here’s how he put it. BARRACK OBAMA: Now,
there’s been a trend around the country of
trying to get colleges to dis-invite speakers with
a different point of view or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that no matter
how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things
that come out of their mouths. Because as my grandmother
used to tell me, every time a fool
speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk. [APPLAUSE] Let them talk. If you don’t, you just
make them a victim. And then they can
avoid accountability. That doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t challenge them. Have the confidence
to challenge them– confidence in the
rightness of your position. There will be times when you
shouldn’t compromise your core values, your integrity. And you will have
the responsibility to speak up in the
face of injustice. But listen, engage, if the
other side has a point, learn from them. If they’re wrong, rebut
them, teach them, beat them on the battlefield of ideas. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES: We’re heading
to the end of our program. And as we conclude
today, we hope that you’re going to want
to learn more and engage more about with this
particular and important value. It’s history at the University. And there’s a website,
I think, coming up on this next slide that
has the University’s website around free expression. We would encourage
you to explore that. But before we
dismiss, we’re going to hear one last time from
President Zimmer discussing free expression and the mission
of this great university. I’d encourage you to listen and
reflect on your own excitement about joining our community. After the video, we’re
going to ask our panelists for some final thoughts. ROBERT J. ZIMMER:
Because we believe it’s central to delivering
the most powerful, rigorous, and intense education, and
central to the environment for research. In other words, it’s our
actual mission, not the First Amendment, that is
what defines, for us, the imperative of free
expression and open discourse. MICHAEL HAYES: So we’re
going to ask our panelists for their last minute thoughts
or words of advice to you– the class of 2022, I guess. So however. Anyone? CHRISTOPHER WILD: I
guess, I’ll keep it short because I’m standing between
keeping you from your dinner. So when you hear Professor
Stone and President Zimmer, it sounds simple. It sounds like they have
the answers in the sense that they are
articulating an ideal. But I also want to stress
that the nitty gritty is when you are in
a daily situation and the ideal gets applied
and you have to make decisions on a split second. And I want to just
stress that it’s hard. And we all are in this
together trying to– in this dialogue,
in these debates. And we don’t always make
the right decisions. We may have the best
intentions, but we don’t always wear the right decisions. But what we can do is
keep at it, work at it, practice it, and learn from that
together, both on the student, on the side of the faculty,
administrators, et cetera. And I just want you to, as I
said, not think that this is– that we have all the answers. We don’t. We are also– we are we’re
working hard on that. And I want to put one last plug
in, because we in the college recognize that, we are
actually launching– we are just launching this
fall a public speaking program that’s called
The [? Parazia ?] Program for Public Speaking. And we have the
inaugural director here, [? Leila ?] [? Bremmer. ?] So
stay tuned for classes that will go online in Winter
and in the Spring quarter. Classes on public deliberation
and civic discourse and all very exciting stuff. MICHAEL HAYES: Anyone else? MATTHEW FOLDI: Yes, I
wanted to say real quick, I rarely agree with President
Obama, but I love those quotes. It’s incredible. So he’s very right on that. Another thing that we’ve hit on,
but I want to really emphasize is that free speech
on college campuses is often portrayed as just
shutting down a speaker. But really, and
I don’t obviously advocate enlarging
the government, but we should have
had more chairs that were full of students
just listening to that sort of interchange. Because obviously the speaker
speaks, but the audience is there to listen. And then that’s where
shutting things down additionally
becomes a problem is because you have an audience
that’s there for a reason, to hear that person talk. But my broad advice,
and to a person, I was told when
I was in O-Week– go to Chicago, go downtown, go
to all the great restaurants, and that’s true. But I have sort of the
opposite take as someone who literally just graduated. Spend a ton of time on campus
because you are going– this time goes by so quickly. Sit in on extra classes. Go to a club, even if
it’s just one time. Really use these four
years to learn everything you can, try new things
out, because once you’re out of college, no one cares
about your schedule, you are not the
center of the world, and it becomes a lot harder
to do things for fun. So take these four
years, realize they are going to
go by very quickly, and do everything you
can that you’re not going to be able to
do in June of 2022. [APPLAUSE] We’re not done. MICHAEL HAYES: Anyone? MELISSA GILLIAM: Yeah,
so I’ll just finish by, first of all, welcoming
you and congratulating you for how far you’ve come. This is an interesting place. It’s founded on an ideal. And these are some
of the principles that we try and live and
work through every day. It creates a really
interesting energy here. It’s one of– I wasn’t here as
an undergraduate, but it is really one of the
most exciting environments to be a part of. And so welcome. And we really look forward
to working with you. MATTHEW FOLDI: And
please reach out to me, and to alums,
and professors, like, I’ll stick around if anyone
is not tired of this already. But we are all, I’m
sure I’m not going to speak for everyone
here, but I’m happy to be a resource– alums,
professors, like, use us. Because we’ve all been in your
shoes, and we want to help you guys succeed. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES: One more. DANIEL ABEBE: I guess I will
be the one who will be last before you get to eat. So I’ll be very short. Be open to new ideas. Always ask questions. Don’t be afraid to
challenge your commitments. And give each other the
benefit of the doubt. [APPLAUSE] MICHAEL HAYES: One second,
please, one second. I’d like you to join me
in thanking our panelists for their time today. [APPLAUSE] I’d like you to help me and join
in thanking our three student actors over here. [APPLAUSE]

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