Reichman in the Times

Our own Hank Reichman (click here to see a list of his posts) has contributed to a New York Times opinion section “Room for Debate” spread, “Tongue-Tied on Campus.” Not only is he an important contributor to this blog but Reichman is the AAUP’s first vice president and chairman of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. His most recent post addresses ‘administrative bloat’ in American universities and he has been especially important in bringing attention to the accreditation issues of the City College of San Francisco. In the Times, he writes that:

we should be encouraged that students are engaged and eager to advocate their own views and not just passively accept choices imposed by others. Protest, after all, is a vital element of the very democracy that our higher education system seeks to nurture.

He continues, stating that graver threats to higher education:

include imposition of dumbed-down cookie-cutter curricula, overemphasis on vocational education at the expense of the liberal arts, overreliance on adjunct faculty with increasingly restricted academic freedom, administrative bloat, ballooning student debt, and prolonged reductions in state support.

Read the whole thing. It’s short but straight to the point. Then join in the Times discussion of the issue of if, when, and where speech should be restricted.

One thought on “Reichman in the Times

  1. Hank Reichman argues, “As long as they do not prevent a speaker from speaking, those who wish to protest a commencement speaker’s presence have as much right to do so as the speaker does to speak.” That’s true, but it doesn’t address the question of whether these protests are “a sign of a healthy democracy,” as Reichman’s essay is titled. Protesting a speaker’s viewpoint or actions is certainly welcome. Protesting the process by which a commencement speaker was selected may also be legitimate. But it’s a little different when someone is protesting a speaker’s presence and arguing that they should not be speaking. Now, protesting an honorary degree or a commencement address is different from a protest of any speech on campus.

    What we need are campuses less afraid of protest, where speakers aren’t pressured to withdraw simply because a small protest is anticipated. But since we live in an imperfect world where protest does lead some campuses to censor speakers, I think that creates a moral obligation not to join any calls for banning speakers, even from commencement addresses. The protests may be a sign of a healthy democracy, but the disinvitations are not.

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