Universities are heralded as bastions of freedom of speech and expression where all opinions and ideas are welcome to be presented, as well as criticized. Such an environment seems most conducive to learning and understanding other points of view. However, such institutions sometimes are forced to remove students from classrooms, or otherwise seemingly censor students with controversial opinions. There is a balance which must be achieved between free and open discussion and the continued advancement of ideologies which impact the ability of a classroom to function smoothly.
Recently, a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, was removed from his humanities class for making remarks about things like rape culture and the legitimacy of rape victims’ claims which were considered offensive to some of the students in the class who had been victims of sexual assaults. Certainly such offense alone should not be grounds for silencing this student, Jeremiah True, nor removing him from the class. However, it appears that the instructor, Pancho Savery, went to great lengths to discuss the issue with True in order to avoid having to remove him from the class in order to maintain order. At this point, regardless of True’s opinions, or if you agree with them or not, he should have acquiesced for the sake of the class. Surely everyone in the class was already aware of his positions, precluding any further need for him to continue to be outspoken about them. His apparent refusal to do so led to his dismissal from the course.
In this clip from our Secular Roundtable discussion, the panel, including our guest Venaloid, give their opinions on this story. In addition, I’ll link to another interesting article about a seeming trend of colleges attempting to shield students from controversial subjects: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/opinion/sunday/judith-shulevitz-hiding-from-scary-ideas.html