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University of Chicago student government on commitment to free speech: ‘No thanks’

On Monday evening the University of Chicago Student Government’s General Assembly tabled a resolution “reaffirming the University’s commitment to free expression.”

Ironically, the school was recently commended by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for being a leader when it comes to campus free speech and expression, earning the organization’s highest — “green-light” — rating.

The resolution was proposed by Matthew Foldi, who referenced the FIRE rating.

“We are looked upon as an example by other institutions who adopt our speech policies and as such I think it’s important to affirm the importance of free inquiry at the University of Chicago,” he said.

The measure calls on school officials “to condemn any student who ‘obstructs or disrupts’ free speech, including making threats to speakers on campus, and to enforce such condemnation.”

But Class of 2018 Representative Cosmo Albrecht felt differently, stating that “protests are a necessary part of a democracy.”

“I don’t think we should use this idea of elected officials being … banned from speaking as evidence that free speech is under attack,” he added.

The Chicago Maroon reports:

In debating the resolution, several General Assembly members referenced the event with Anita Alvarez, who has been widely criticized for her office’s role in delaying the release of a video of a Chicago Police Department officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

“I do think that at a university, a variety of viewpoints are supposed to be put in front of us,” said Class of 2018 CC Representative Calvin Cottrell. “I was going to show up [to the Alvarez event] and ask very tough questions about what had happened in her office and I think many people were denied the opportunity to ask those questions.”

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SG President Tyler Kissinger explained that while he does not usually speak on these issues, he urged General Assembly members to vote against the resolution. “As a public official it is my obligation not to run out of the room. I was at the Anita Alvarez event, an event with someone whose office has consistently refused to meet with black and Latino communities that her office has over-policed and I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “I think it is well within the rights of people to protest events particularly for public officials…and I urge a no vote.”

Of course it’s “within the the rights of people to protest events,” but preventing people from speaking is another matter.

Yet again, contemporary college students prove quite worrisome with their views on free expression.

Read the full article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.