Faculty at one of the nation’s most prestigious colleges are calling for the school to stop inviting speakers to campus who will cause “harm” by presenting their ideas.
In an email sent throughout the Wellesley College Community, a diversity commission said it is against allowing speakers with ““controversial and objectionable beliefs” to speak at the college, even though the committee says it believes free speech “is essential to a liberal arts education.”
Wellesley is a very expensive all women’s college in Massachusetts. Annual tuition can reach $67,000 per year, meaning a four-year degree can top a quarter-million dollars.
The email was obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group promoting free speech on college campuses.
The commission said that speakers with controversial ideas “impose on the liberty” of Wellesley community members.
“There is no doubt that the speakers in question impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley,” said CERE in the e-mail. “We are especially concerned with the impact of speakers’ presentations on Wellesley students, who often feel the injury most acutely and invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments. Students object in order to affirm their humanity. This work is not optional; students feel they would be unable to carry out their responsibilities as students without standing up for themselves.”
If the school would only limit students’ First Amendment rights, then all the alleged harm could be avoided.
“What is especially disturbing about this pattern of harm is that in many cases, the damage could have been avoided,” wrote CERE. “The speakers who appeared on campus presented ideas that they had published, and those who hosted the speakers could certainly anticipate that these ideas would be painful to significant portions of the Wellesley community.”
Rather than rely on the Constitution to decide who can speak and on which topic, the commission has their three-step criteria that should be used:
“First, those who invite speakers to campus should consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups. … Second, standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley. … Third, faculty and administrators should step up in defense of themselves and all members of the Wellesley community. The responsibility to defend the disempowered does not rest solely with students, and the injuries suffered by students, faculty, and staff are not contained within the specific identity group in question; they ripple throughout our community and prevent Wellesley from living out its mission.”
H/T: The Blaze