In a refreshing and stark contrast to other universities that have seemingly tripped over themselves to accommodate every silly request from America’s pampered Millennials in their never ending quest for “safe spaces,” the University of Chicago has sent the incoming class of 2020 a letter making very clear that they will find no “safe spaces” in their intellectual journey at Chicago. The full letter is presented below but here are a couple of the best comments for your reading pleasure:
You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
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.
Just when we thought all hope had been lost, an establishment of higher learning finally steps up to interject some rational thoughts into the public discourse surrounding freedom of expression.
.@UChicago does not:
???? “support so-called ‘trigger warnings'”
???? “cancel invited speakers”
???? condone “safe spaces” pic.twitter.com/DH7IVfYZ4U
— Justice Don Willett (@JusticeWillett) August 25, 2016
The letter also directs students to a note it had previously written on freedom of expression…
The full letter can be reviewed in its entirety at the end of this post, but below are a couple of the gems that we particularly liked:
“Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.”
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.
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.
For Millennials getting ready start at University of Chicago might we suggest some reading material (here) that we shared a few months back that might help you cope in the absence of “safe spaces” at your new home…
No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your “safe space” away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home. Remember, though: if people in the outside world scare you, people on the internet will downright terrify you. It’s probably best to just accept these harsh realities of life and go out into the world prepared to confront them wherever they may be waiting.
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