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University Of Chicago Tells Freshmen There Will Be No ‘Safe Spaces’
University of Chicago class of 2020, get ready for a college experience filled with debate, discussion — and possibly discomfort.
As colleges across the country wrestle with balancing academic freedom and open discourse with student health and safety, University of Chicago Dean of Students John Ellison told incoming freshmen in a letter what they should expect on campus.
"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," the letter said.
Trigger warnings — used to alert students of sensitive material that might be uncomfortable, offensive and traumatic to them, such as discussions about race and sexual assault — are becoming more widely used by universities across the country. Similarly, safe spaces are popping up on campuses to shelter students from speakers and topics that might make them feel uncomfortable.
In a welcome letter to freshmen, the College made clear that it does not condone safe spaces or trigger warnings: pic.twitter.com/9ep3n0ZbgV
— The Chicago Maroon (@ChicagoMaroon) August 24, 2016
In 2014, after a debate over sexual assault on campus was scheduled, students at Brown University organized a safe space on campus with counselors, bubbles, Play-Doh and pillows. The space was designed to give students who might find the discussion troubling a place to recuperate, The New York Times reported.
Fostering the free exchange of ideas helps build a welcoming campus, Ellison told University of Chicago students in the letter, which accompanied a book titled "Academic Freedom and the Modern University: The Experience of the University of Chicago" by John Boyer, a university dean and professor, a university spokesman said.
The letter included a link to a university report issued by a committee established in 2015 to articulate the university's policy on freedom of expression.
"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," the report states. "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 our community."
The report pointed out the university's long history of commitment to freedom of expression and debate, outlining what past university presidents had said about protecting free speech. Former President Hanna Holborn Gray was quoted in the report saying, "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."
In a welcoming letter last fall to all students and faculty, university President Robert Zimmer touched on the legacy of the university's values.
"Perhaps the most distinctive attribute of the University in its 125 years has been its deep and unwavering commitment to open discourse, free expression, and a singular focus on rigorous inquiry. The founders and first faculty members here, including President William Rainey Harper, viewed free expression as an essential basis for an institution where strength of ideas, not social standing or other considerations, would determine success in education and research," Zimmer said in the letter.
The debate over freedom of expression has played out at other universities in the Chicago area and across the country.
Earlier this month, DePaul University denied a request to have conservative commentator Ben Shapiro give a speech at the university, citing security concerns. And in May, a protest disrupted and forced the cancellation of an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative blogger with Breitbart News Network.
In a statement to the Tribune earlier this month about the Shapiro cancellation, DePaul spokeswoman Carol Hughes said: "DePaul University's Office of Public Safety determined, after observing events which took place when Mr. Shapiro spoke elsewhere, that it was not in a position to provide the type of security that would be required to properly host this event at this time."
Shapiro is a columnist and radio commentator whose books include "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth." Videos on social media show Shapiro discrediting the Black Lives Matter movement. His talks have sparked protests on college campuses.
In 2014, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice backed out of giving the commencement speech at Rutgers University after student protests centered around her involvement in the Iraq War during the George W. Bush administration.
Last year, a Northwestern University professor who wrote a controversial essay on how colleges police faculty-student relationships sparked a national debate over academic and sexual freedom. After the publication of the essay by communications professor Laura Kipnis, two students filed complaints claiming that Kipnis created a "chilling effect" on their ability to report sexual misconduct.
Kipnis was cleared after a nearly three-month investigation for complaints that she violated the federal Title IX law against gender discrimination with her essay "Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe." In the essay, Kipnis, an author and film professor, made clear that sexual abusers should be punished but also chided the university for its ban on faculty members dating students, calling it the "Great Prohibition" and arguing that such policies treat students as vulnerable children.
©2016 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
Fatal training accidents are on the rise. Now the families of the fallen are pushing lawmakers to do something about it
CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.
Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.
Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.
Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.
"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."
While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.
"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."
North Korea threatens to resume nuclear weapons and ICBM tests if US-South Korea military exercises proceed
SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
Customs and Border Patrol denied a Marine vet entry into the US for his a scheduled citizenship interview
A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.
Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.