tv Discussion on Freedom of Expression on College Campuses CSPAN February 10, 2022 7:00pm-8:04pm EST
former governors christine gregoire and jim douglas talked about the recent report on how universities and colleges can foster expression of free speech and inclusion is. the bipartisan policy center hosted this event. >> hello, i'm jacqueline jacqueline pfeffer merrill director of the [inaudible] bipartisan follows the center. i'm providing [inaudible] today's conversations about campus free expression, in new roadmap, a report released today by [inaudible] academic task force on campus free expression. colleges antidepressants have a special was to play in our
democracy, teaching the values of civil disagreement and mutual respect, preparing the next generation for civic in engagement and civic leadership. [inaudible] the principles of academic freedom and free expression are restrained and an atmosphere for open exchanged many college campuses has been strained, making it harder for campuses to perform their academic [inaudible] today's report is a direct response to those challenges. the report is a street teacher guide had fostering open exchange during this period of polarization enter non civil tone in our national destroyed. discourse. the chessboard richard approve this report on unanimously, is comprised of a [inaudible] former governors, college presidents and other academic leaders from the wired age of college campuses, including liberal arts colleges, research universities, historically black colleges and universities, hispanic [inaudible] is didn't uses, and faith-based
institutions. the task force met frequently and virtually over the last few to discuss these issues and to hear from other college presidents, faculty since turns about their concerns for solutions that have worked on their campuses. these are not cut and dry issues. [inaudible] to sustain a diverse committee of knowledge speakers such as the every member of the committee feels welcome to participate. before turning to those conversations, just a few words about bipartisan policy center and why we're working with campus leaders. the bipartisan policy center is washington, d.c., think tank this tries to create [inaudible] by [inaudible] the best opportunities for both parties for american families. with the only organization registered in the district of columbia that has the word bipartisan its name and [inaudible] challenges today. that's why we're working with
campus leaders to prepare the next generally shun [inaudible] in this video to be the bipartisan leaders able to forge constructive compromise across several disagreement. >> what do you do with an idea? you test it. you share it. you open it up to criticism. you refine it. and you implement it. right now freedom of expression is losing ground on college campuses across the nation, where students should be exposed to new ideas and to the top to think independently. and as this race freedom of showing our ideas that helped us progress as election. that's why the bipartisan politics center is working with colleges and universities across the country to foster free expression. learn more about how to tackle these involving issues at bipartisanpolicy.org forward slash campus free expression. >> [inaudible] conversations about [inaudible] task force member sent other academic experts. our conversation should be manu
degraded by john hopkins university [inaudible] . before i introduce president daniels, just a few words about her [inaudible] . president daniels will moderate to conversations, the first with a pass task force call shows james h. douglas and. [inaudible] don't lori white, [inaudible] college professor of philosophy, daniel cullen and, they will be joined by auburn university vice president and [inaudible] progress on in occlusion our diversity [inaudible] . 15 minutes for questions and answers, and i encourage you in the audience to submit your comments for the conversation at any point of your questions for the panelists at the [inaudible] the chat function on youtube and facebook. and now it's my pleasure to introduce president ronald daniels. he's can be bio as well as
those of other participants of are available on the web page. president daniels of [inaudible] before becoming presidents of john hopkins university in 2000 times he was provost at the university of pennsylvania and dean of the faculty of law at the university of toronto. this book, [inaudible] exam is a vital role that higher education institutions have in the valleys of liberal democracy. i wouldn't [inaudible] but do a [inaudible] president daniels, thank you very, much and over to you. >> thank you so much, jackie. it's a real pleasure and privilege to be here today and i'm really honored to be joined here today by the coauthors of the academic leaders cast course on expression free expression, governor jim douglas and governor chris gregoire. chris gregoire, as you know, served two terms as governor of washington and chair of the national governors association. she is now ceo of chance seattle, and aligns off the
ceos of the nation's largest private sector employees. jim douglas served four terms as governor from what he served to as the chair of the national governors association, and he's now executive residence -- executive in residence at middlebury college, his middlebury college, his alma mater. thank you governors for being here, but more, for the important contributions that you're making to our sector and to debate more generally within the country. so with that said, a simple starting question. whatever possessed you to take on a relatively uncontroversial so seldom in the news issue like free expression on university campuses who? wants to start? well, i'm going to use the law professor's prerogative. governor douglas. >> well thank you, president daniels, for being part of the presentation today, i don't know i speak for my colleague, governor gregoire, in thanking all of the members of the task
force who gave general see all the time and expertise over the past year. i am spending time on the college campus as you indicated, so i see it up close and personal, and have become concerned about what i see in the change on campuses during the past roughly half century. our local hero, covered coolidge, among others, said the purpose of our college education is to teach people not want to think, but how to think. and according to some recent polling data, the american people don't believe in substantial numbers that that's happening. both suggest that only half of americans believe that colleges are teaching young people how to think independently. and there's a division politically there, too. about 70% of democrats think that colleges are doing a good job and only 40% of republicans to. so i couldn't think of a better organization and then the bipartisan qualities andrew, through whom i've worked with my good friend christine gregoire gregoire on other
projects over the past few years to take this on and address that decline in public trust, because the university is where the next generation of leaders is trained to participate in citizenship beyond the campus, and that citizenship is going to require exposure to a lot of diverse points of view and we need to ensure that they are equipped to provide the leadership that our country is going to need. so that's what motivated me, and i'm really delighted that we are the point now of launching this report. >> thank you. governor gregoire. >> i join my colleague, jim douglas, in saying thank you, president daniels, for joining us today and to all of my colleagues on the task force for just a tremendous job and a great learning experience, to be perfectly honest with you. and to jackie and steve had deep sea, thank you so much for your leadership. i'll tell you how i came to ask
bbc to consider this issue [inaudible] university of washington in seattle. it was january 17, a students had invited a speaker by the name of milo to come speak, and the president of the university received petitions to overrule the students and not allow the speaker to. she also received petitions to reinforce that the speaker should be allowed to attend. unfortunately, it ended up in a very unfortunate incident in which an individual was shot. but the victim and the perpetrator were not students or faculty or campus members at all, but it did evolve out of the demonstration. the conclusion that most won by the community at large warns that the academic this [inaudible] was evidence of a growing problem with regard to freedom of speech and in fact the question asked was that it posed a threat to the safety
and security of college campuses? i thought it was a terrible conclusion to draw, and instead i felt the conclusion better to be drawn was if we are threatening freedom of speech, then our college campuses and our whole country is being threatened. so like jim i took this to the bipartisan policy counsel and said, i'm concerned because i've watched the president at the university of washington stand alone with virtually no support once the incident took place, and being pummeled from every conceivable direction. well, that was january 2017. the protest was against the speaker and the incoming president, and it only got hardened, it got more polarized sits. so clearly that was not the beginning, but evidence of a trend that was going to take us down a really troubling path. so, bpc said, let's gather together the best and brightest in the country, let's see if we
can help college presidents and to do something about this, for the very reasons that jim just described. >> you know, i want to pick up on this theme the point that you just made about the high stakes that are at play here, and in some sense the background shift in american society that have occurred not just in the last several years but governor douglas, as you said in the past couple of decades. the question i would ask of both of you is to the extent that you are seeing increasingly much more polarized country, and increasingly a diverse array of viewpoints across campuses that are hard to reconcile, i'd really be interested, particularly given both of your bipartisan instincts, can you say something about how you bridge across these differences and in particular i know that the report is very concerned with that issue, but i would be really interested in your lessons as governors who have
had to navigate these divides, what can we as university presidents learn from you as to how we can do this better? >> well, you know, i would suggest to thinks. number one, university presidents do not have a choice but to lead on this issue, and the confidently hunt squarely. number two, they cannot allow themselves to be left alone when a crisis or problem rises. that really they need to take the lead and set the culture and set the values on the college campus that allows that civil discourse to take place and encourages it and provide the students and faculty with themselves as a role model about how that can best be done. to engage not just with the students and the faculty, but to engage with the trustees, so that they are there when an incident or problem should arise, to engage with their very own backyard community,
and to engage with their legislators and their governor. at the end of the, day being president off a university can be a very lonely job. it doesn't have to be, particularly in a crisis. it demands that there be those who stand up and be supportive, so engaging, listening, really listening, opening the doors to diverse thought, thinking and cultures, and religions and all of that, is a role model that the president can play. i know it isn't easy, trust me it isn't easy being governor, but it is accomplish-able even in these divided times. i firmly believe it's possible, but more importantly, i believe it's absolutely essential that we have leadership on our college campuses, public private whatever they may be that says, here's our culture, this is how we are going to provide the kind of civil discourse and civic leadership for tomorrow in the country. >> thank you. that's exactly, right, chris.
and presidents are going to have to spend some capital. let's go to require them getting some involved in this on a personal basis. they need to ensure that the trustees, as you noted, have their backs so that when circuit difficult circumstances arise, they have that support. i guess it starts with adopting policies, and we have some in our report to which presidents and other campus leaders can look for a possible example, but beyond that, it requires engagement. and not just when the crisis occurs. it requires ensuring that student organizations and other campus leaders know what they are going to do when it circumstance arises. it requires a clear statement that there's no conflict between free expression and diversity, equity and bring inclusion. sometimes people think there is, but we want to be sure that there is total inclusion of everyone, including in geologically, on our college campuses.
so those are very consistent goals and. finally, if there is a difference or a gap between the kinds of views that are expressed only comp college campuses, the president will have to fill that gap by ensuring that different voices are heard, whether it's invitations to speak on campus, whether it's diversity among the faculty, or whether it's students and their organizations, to ensure that in variety of different views are heard. as chris indicated, it's too important to fail. this is the next generation of leaders, and we have to be sure that they have the tools necessary to go into their lives beyond the campus and lead our country forward. >> >> just before i turned it over to our next panel, and unfortunately this is compressed time. but before we turn it over to the next panel, i really would appreciate just your talking a bit about, from your
perspective as governors in states where there are robust public institutions -- to the extent that we are seeing an increasing trend toward polarization in the context of public universities being manifest on boards of trustees, to say that president should make sure the trustees understand the commitment, can you be confident that those tensions don't get replicated on the board of trustees? there is a risk that the trustees fail to transcend their own partisan differences in these moments. do we need to worry about that? >> i have been a trustee of public institutions in state colleges. it was ideological diverse. we have legislators on the boards of both parties as well. but that is why it is so difficult and so important.
i was a student half century ago at middlebury college. and it looks different there today. i would say, more technology and better food. beyond that, there is a different climate in terms of free expression. i was the head of the young republicans and kind of an oddball in that northeastern liberal institution. but no one ever suggested that i shouldn't be heard. and today, people are suggesting that some voices not be heard. so, everybody has to understand how important it is that, as my friend bernie sanders once asked, when a controversial speaker came to campus, what are we afraid of? let them speak. we have to adopt that attitude and recognize that the pursuit of knowledge means being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, even some that make us feel uncomfortable. i think if we keep that objective in mind we can find a way to get there. >> and i agree with jim. as i view it, having been the
one to appoint trustees for our college and colleges and universities in washington state, they went through a pretty rigorous process with me and i was always insistent that it is your job to have the backup of your president. if the president isn't performing, replace the president. but when you have that president, have that presidents back. the only way in which they will when it comes to the day-to-day operation is if is there i relationship tween those trustees and the president, setting the tone and culture. when a crisis happens, it is too late to begin to establish a plan. it has to be in place. and there are some really great examples of ideas that can be battered around in a report presented today. and it goes on to be the subject of trustee meetings, where they can engage and see the viewpoints and the difficulties associated with
him. at the end of the day, it is very key that a president not be left standing alone during a crisis. but that he or she has gathered a support system from the president, trustees, faculty, to the students, to the governor, to legislators and to the community. trustees are a key and essential component of that community of support. it's essential to the success of making sure the president can produce the kind of civil discourse and civil leadership that we need in this country. >> thank you both. terrific interventions there. now, i would like to broaden our panel and have three task force members, who i am going to introduce to you. first daniel cullen, professor of philosophy at the center for liberal democracy at roads college. he is also professional scholar
at the jack miller center for teaching constitutional history. ross irwin was leader of a student organization that champions dialogue and the polarization. he is now chief operating officer of bridge usa. lori white is president at depaul university and has served on the board of directors for the national association of the personnel administrators foundation and the association for sustainability in higher education. she is smiling and happy because she is currently residing briefly in baltimore. and we understand that. and these members are joined by -- she is also a member of the board of directors for the national association of
diversity officers in education. before we get going, a reminder that attendees can submit questions using the live chats easing the hashtag bpc live. i will ask task force members to say a quick word on the workings of the task force, how it draws its conclusions and, again, tracking the broad theme of its conversations, the work it is doing. i would be interested to know, after a year of intense deliberation, what was the one issue in which you found that your moves -- your views, rather, were changed by the intense interactions and the deliberations and the debate that you have had over the last year? so, again, we believe that that kind of interaction on our campus is healthy in terms of
bringing people together, shifting views. did it happen on the task force? >>i am not sure who wants to start. lori? daniel? >> i would be happy to start. i wasn't a member of the presidents club on the task force but i often fantasize about being president for a day and solving the world problems. i was once told the best version of a committee minutes is to simply say that the committee mauled mulled and that's with the task force did. we mulled and we thought seriously and the deeply about problems that we were all familiar with. but nobody believed that they have a handle on them. i would say what i learned most was that it is a mistake, as we
faculty tend to think, that the faculty are the university. dennis o'brien wrote a great book a few years ago called all the essential half truths about higher education. each chapter was so and so is the university, the administrators are the university, the students at the university, the faculty. and i unlearned a lot justin hearing what a presidential perspective really is like and earlier this morning, laurie white was saying that it has been crucial to her success as president so far that she had a background in student affairs. and so i think we brought different perspectives on what is working and not working on the campus. and different perspectives on
the needs of students, which was, i think, a particular thing that i might have had a blind spot. faculty tend to regard students as families people who are in their classroom. we think about them when they are in class and not so much outside. and we got perspective on the other dimensions of students and student lives. >> daniel, you had me at you've become more sympathetic to presidents. so, i heard the rest. but that is the teaching i am going to take from this. lori? >> it was a real gift to be able to engage in dialogue with so many incredible colleagues who, as dan mentioned, represented different perspectives at the university on the issue of freedom of expression. and so, to be able to gather on
a regular basis for over a year, for us to talk about this really critically important issue as jim and christine underscored, it was really wonderful. and it was one place where we really wrestled. jim talked about this. it was about the important foundational values of freedom of expression and diversity and inclusion and equity. this goes into the conversation. i don't know that everyone thought that that was going to be part of a really deep and robust conversation, which is, how do we create environments that affirm the right of every member of the community to be, as i always say, their full authentic selves. and to be able to debate and sharon criticize. and at the same, time have an affirming community where all members of the community, particularly those who have been historically marginalized,
do not feel threatened by invited speakers, as christine just articulated. speakers who may not agree or who may even dehumanize how it is that they identify. so, i think there were quite a few sessions where we wrestled with how to be effectively articulating this in our report, to not undermine either of these values. and to be able to reinforce that through the report, that we think they are both critically important and that they are intertwined. >>it sic ross? >> thank you. excuse me, i am a bit sick today. so i hope my coughing is while i am muted. thank you for having me. and thank you to the task force members not here today.
i think professor cullen said it. i would like to amend the word team mull, though, to be dialogue and deliberation. what was beautiful about this was that we were asking universities to practice themselves. it did take a while. and we certainly took an hour sometimes on one paragraph. but we put together something that is robust and can help a lot of campuses throughout the country, i think. what i learned a lot of was, again, the constraints on university administration. as a student organizer, i think it is easy to see administration as the rules and systems confining you and the school's ability to make change on campus. but i have a new appreciation for the amount of stakeholders
and things to consider as far as university presidents and administration's go win approaching these issues. i know it has made me a lot more sympathetic to rules and stickiness that i then i would have thought previously there. >> before going on to the next question, to our two gubernatorial co-chairs, what was the situation where you saw yourself being challenged? and saw your views change during the course of deliberations? >> we just heard our lawyer speak up. and i mentioned briefly, the importance of ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion is consistent with the right of free expression. we want everyone to be included, ethnically, every kind of demographic, but ideologically
as well. and if we have that attitude, if we agree that everyone is important and everyone's views need to be heard and valued, then we can address these two objectives that some felt, initially, were in conflict. but we believe strongly that they are not. >> i would agree with both lori and gm on this one. it was a learning experience for me and in large part around this issue -- because what i see around our country is that the country overall is struggling with this very issue. and it is not doing a good job. i fundamentally believe the answer to how we do a good job in dealing with free expression and diversity, inclusion and equity, is really by marrying the two and understand that they coexist. and make sure that the leadership for how we do that is really present on our colleges and universities as a role model to the rest of the
country, which doesn't seem to be handling it well. and providing a role model to the generation of tomorrow, prepared to do it and do it right. >> let me go to a question that is an important point made in the report. i am not sure who wants to take it on but i will throw it out. it is open for whoever wants to respond. you stated the report that there is overwhelming survey research and evidence that the intellectual climate on many college and university campuses is being constrained. that is directly from the report. this is in itself a question that is quite contested in the public sphere, especially given the over reliance on insinuation. can you say a bit more about whatever dense you found most compelling that reinforce this finding? that, but i'm not sure who wants to take. that but given the characterization, and so much that follows, it would be good
to get a sense. well -- >> we'll you go. >> you know, you know, you got hit i just take [inaudible] a university president not represented on task force and i said, you know, you don't have much diversity of opinion on your faculty. and then he said, well, that's not our objective. but let me explain how it happens. because you positions, when they're open, are filled by the existing faculty. and so it is a perpetuation of the few solve those who are already there and so i think one important consideration is that we need to have a diversity of views on college faculty, and to some degree at many institutions, that's not the case now. so that's one factor that certainly affected my thinking. >> ron, i would say that data reinforced what had been my observations overtime. i've been in higher education
for the last 40 years, and over the course of time, i have noticed this moving away from intellectualism on our college campuses, driven, i think, in large part by students and parents now looking at a college education as a means to employment and not necessarily as a means to spark once intellect. also, the data reinforced for me, the data that talked about when students want to argue a point, it's about their gift experiences, it's about how they feel about something, it's not necessarily about the data and the research, and you know, that compelled us to one of farm imported recommendations, which is that we have to give the students the tools to be able to engage in the kind of debate and intellectual conversation that we want to see happen on our college campuses, to imagine that we would take young people have grown up primarily in
homogeneous environments [laughs] , throw them into a college campus setting, and then expect for them to figure out how it is they're supposed to debate difference, i think is not i -- think what's important is that we need to be able to think about how we introduce these concepts to our students and then how we give them the actual tools to engage in a kind of intellectual on conversations that we would like to see happen on our college campuses. >> thank you. anyone else want to chime in on that, or should i go to -- jail your next question. >> yeah, president daniels. >> ross [inaudible] hear from you. >> yeah, so i think one of the four most sources that i look at is [inaudible] academy's freedom of expression report that puts out survey straightens year after year and has been collecting data on how students feel about expressing their own views in. 2020, 62% of students say that
they believed the campus climate was stopping people from expressing their true feelings. that was up 7% from 2019. now you can drop drop to points -- you can't draw a line with two points but of that sort of continues in six years, you have 100 people hundreds central people saying they were on in line to express their [inaudible] views on [inaudible] campus. that is incredibly concerning. it should be over 50 or 25%. our students should be feel comfortable expressing their beliefs. and i don't want to express that with not being too anecdotal. but i talk to chapter leaders across this country who are working on integrating spaces for freedom of expression and diversity and time after time, they say that students on most campuses feel refreshed by being able to come into a space when they are challenged with different views and hear from different types of people, and are safe to express their own opinions. and so i think those two together really make the case for me that this is a big
problem, and not only is it a big problem, it's getting worse your after year. >> that's also influenced by social media. and the data that says that one of the reasons that students are hesitant to speak up and speak out is because they're afraid that they're going to be socially ostracized by their peers on social media. and faculty are also afraid as well that if they say something controversial or are perceived as being controversial that somebody has their video phone, and is going to push that all over social media. so that also influences and the data that ross just talked about that is concerning to all of us. >> so can i just built a bit on this discussion and -- you know, and ask you to, just, maybe probe a bit the paradox that you described in the report, that is that our campuses, in so many ways over the last several decades, have become
much more diverse in a number of different dimensions. you know, we have, we've moved from all male campuses to seeing women on campus, then increasingly seeing weaves of religious diversity, racial diversity, increasingly more and more institutions are becoming acutely aware of the importance of geographic and socioeconomic diversity. so there is a sort of paradox that you described, which is our campuses are more diverse than ever, and yet we have a spirit of conformity that is -- that you see as being really important in shaping or at least limiting the scope for discourse again, do you put most of this at the feet of social media? how do we understand this, this paradox? >> ron, i would suggest this, that there's a certain emphasis or a certain inflection, maybe,
all of the meaning of inclusion that can become a problem when one loses sight of the question, inclusion in what precisely? and what i have in mind is a phenomenon that's been mentioned by lori and others already, that there is a sense among students a lot of the time that, you know, their role is to somehow represent their identity, that being included means that representative function. but i think what we're, what we are aiming at, ultimately, is joining together equally in an enterprise that transcends identity, where your demographic identity doesn't confer on you and epistemological privilege.
and i think what we were, what we were trying to articulate was that a culture of free expression and open inquiry is going to be inhibited. when students think that the challenge to challenge a fellow student's opinion or just admit about something is tantamount to disrespecting their identity. so, i think what we're trying to say is that the reconciliation of inclusion and free speech principles rests on this acknowledgment that we have to remind ourselves all the time that what we're doing is including everybody in the common enterprise of knowledge seeking and knowledge production. and in that regard, there's a real sense in which you are checking your identity at the door of the classroom, that what we want to here are your judgments. and they're neither qualified
nor disqualified because of the particular identity that you, that you happen to have. >> so i'm going to ask, just a, you know, random person who is not on the panel for her reaction, albeit a random but expert, expert who is going to be charged with responding to, as we all will be, this report and trying to think about whether it's actionable and in fact, can, we can thread the needle in terms of balancing the need for a vigorous commitment to free expression while simultaneously honoring our diversity and inclusion values. and so, our random expert, who we are really grateful, doctor benson, your here today. good to talk about, first and foremost, once you really see as noteworthy in this report for your campus, but then also
how, when it comes down to having to navigate difficult conversations and -- let's just put an obvious one on the table -- think about the debates about the appropriateness, the role for affirmative action. this is an issue that's going to be played out that has played out in the halls of congress. it is being played out in our court system and yet on campuses this is often a third rail issue when it's discussed. how do we -- how do we, based on what the panelists told us, how do we thread the needle here and make sure that we can have good conversations here that ultimately are robust but nevertheless don't have the effect of undermining this sense of belonging on the part of all the participates in the conversation? so two questions. first, reaction, and then the hard example. >> so the reaction to the report, which how things go and
talk about quickly, while i'm not a member of the task force, i do feel rather connected to the effort by having participated in the leading the way on free expression from meeting in 2019, to discuss an article that i coauthored in the journal of dispute resolution about establishing a strategy for fostering free expression. so from my perspective, looking at the report in it's totality and particularly the recommendations, the acknowledgment of the new influences on perceptions and discord for a students once they reach our campuses was really helpful and. what's important, i think, that we understand that the terrain for free expression and civil discourse has changed. it's more charged. additionally, from the experiences of jim's adolescence, there's a difference in terms gen z adolescents. there, [inaudible]
there's an impact of social media that has already been discussed -- excuse -- me and the perceived in compatibility of g.i. and free expression, which i'll speak to a little bit more in a moment. i really don't think that outlining these realities and explaining their influence was important for understanding for campus leaders. i do think that this is a very helpful roadmap i. really liked -- this doesn't really practical -- but i liked the way the recommendations were constituency based. i think it's going to be very helpful for campuses and teachers to be able to apply and adapt these recommendations in ways that really meet the essence of their institutional mission and their culture. i also say that i was it -- won't surprise -- you was particularly pleased to see
that first the recommendation, the recommendation, about leaders needing to expand leadership capital to support this and also, the third recommendation, which i liked so much, because i don't think these kinds of what i see at least, the principles of free speech and of diversity, equity and inclusion coexisting has not been discussed. and sometimes not even approached, and certainly not with clarity and depth. and so, i want to just quote this if, i can, and then i'll get to your second question. at a time when some doubt that commitments to free expression are compatible with commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, leaders should make the case that freedom of expression is ultimately a zip relies-ing and inclusive force. you all may know that i'm quoting top to right here. at the same time, university leaders must remember that
students need to feel fully included in the campus community before they feel safe to confront ideas with which they disagree. and a free expression culture depends on trust and a respectful learning environment for all. so to your point of how we begin to engage these issues on our campus, where issues like affirmative action or considered third rail, i see them as integral to mission. i don't think that an academic institution today can not face straight ahead the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion to include matters, as a former affirmative action officer, of affirmative action. you know, these are the kinds of necessary tools that we ensure that we get the kind of mix on our campuses, we had four students all four employees, that make our learning environments excellent and in many cases, make them
electric, right? it's what's feeds the intellectual curiosity that we see and the ways in which our profession or professor collins talked about cullen's talked about the what classroom debates should be. so it's hard for me to separate them out. and i understand that people do. but this work is mission minded, its mission centered, and it's absolutely integral to the mission of our institutions, and really the success office defense and our institutions a longer term. >> >> before we move on, are there others? because there are questions that are coming in that really follow up on this tension between our learning environment and freedom of expression. and how we simultaneously honor these ideals.
these ideals that dr. clayton has talked about. other others on the panel who want to discuss? >> thank you for quoting me, dr. benson clayton, and reflecting the views of the task force. i would like to respond to the question, daniel, and the first question offered in the chat. they are related. the question is, how can college leaders address the tension between freedom of expression and a respectful learning environment if someone suppression marginalizes groups in the campus community? in our report, we underscore that this is not easy work. and as has been said before, we really have to use the pulpit. presidents have to use their capital to convey why this is
so important. on my campus, most recently, we had a professor who used the n word in the bounds of a class from conversation, not directed at a student, quoting someone else who use the n word in describing others. and students took offense. students asked me if i would ban that word on campus. and so i wrote to the campus community and said, no i am not banning the word. let me tell you why. and i went on to talk about as an english major, there are books that i have read that use that word that i certainly would not want band in a classroom. there are videos that i have viewed that use that word. i certainly would not want to have to intervene in a
situation where somebody was playing rap music in their dorm room, where that word was being used. and i also said, however, the word is abhorrent. i would not use it. i would not encourage others to use it. and there may be, however, situations in the classroom setting where that word might be assigned in a text or a movie, etc. and i think that that is an example of ways in which we can convey that there are certain words, phrases and even speakers that we do not support. but that we defend the right of the campus to invite the speaker or the professor to choose particular books or material. and why all of that is so important. >> we have a question that has now come in. maybe ross might want to think about responding.
it is about college students and free expression. how has this shaped your recommendations? >> i think a lot of recommendations in the report involve a campus that is more welcoming of free expression. in my experience, and i could've made this to the task force, students would like to be able to speak their views, we'd like to feel that they are at home in the university, and that they are free to debate these ideas. but students have to feel like that is a welcome thing. many of our recommendations in the report are talking about creating a more welcoming campus environment. to go back to what professor cullen said, i am biased but i think students are the university. the whole reason we are there
is to educate students. if we are not engaging students, and if we are not working with them, things are not going to be changing. the other thing i would like to quickly harp on is that this is a culture issue. you cannot mandate that people appreciate viewpoint diversity. it is just not something that is going to work. what happens is that this is a long process between faculty and administrators and students who support listening to other viewpoints and who support the valleys of free expression, so that the campus as a whole can be welcoming. >> are there other thoughts from members of the panel? >> i would add something, yeah. i saw a question in the chat that was addressed to how one might go about promoting viewpoint diversity in the classroom.
of course, the first thing you have to do is build it in to your course. but i think, more importantly, one just has to remind -- and i think this is something the report tries to do, by using the expression, embraced viewpoint diversity. we have to remind ourselves that the biases that most afflict us in a knowledge seeking community are the cognitive biases that we all come with, the tendency of individuals and communities to want to just stay within the comfort zone of their existing opinions. if it is going to be a knowledge community, it has got to value skepticism, it has got to seek out controversy. it has got to invite argument. it has got to disrupt that
comfort we are all wrapped into. i don't think jon stewart mail is the solution to what ails campus culture. but there is this enduring argument of mill's to remind us to be disruptive analysts that is what we get it is difficult to tolerate an idea or an opinion that upsets you. but you can't be part of the knowledge producing activity if you are going to immunize yourself or shield yourself from something that is
provocative. again, you actually need to seek out the disagreement. it is the only way the knowledge business amounts to this. >> [inaudible] other people. if someone has an idea we vehemently disagree with, we disagree not with the idea but we think the person who has offered the idea is horrible and bad. so, our challenge is also to figure out how we can be on affirming community. a community built on trust such that if and and i have a contentious argument, we can still leave the room and have a bite to eat with one another. and not say that we forever have to stand in opposite corners of the university. we are nowhere near that yet. but in the spirit of free
expression on campus, we have to figure out a way to get to that place. >> [inaudible] >> go ahead, daniel, sorry. john >> when it you are in a heated debate with someone, you argue that i don't think you are evil, i merely think you are mistaken. and you give your reasons. as laurie says, separate the reason from the person. that is a fundamental prism principle against ad hominem arguments. we have lost this, i think, on campuses. >> we have a question now from john wilson. should colleges create centers and programs devoted to the study of free expression in order to have an institutional commitment to freedom? >> you know, one of -- >> do we need to center?
a specific program or initiative around the specific aspirations detailed in the report? >> i am not sure we need a center. but one thing we have done at auburn as a result of an extremist speaker we had winds launch a critical conversation series. professors cornell west and rob george, professor from fire. howard ross and john a thin chait. and so we have partnered with inclusion academy and heterodox kava me. and this platform is designed
to de-polarize communities. and really affect mutual understanding. we had many students who have gone through that experience. some of it is taking advantage of the tools available here now and engaging where we can. i want to return back to the two co-chairs. >> i am incredibly sympathetic to the arguments you are making, very thoughtfully and cogently set out in the report. but is there any part of you that worries that some of the reaction might be, yeah, we have heard the argument. we are not persuaded. that is to say, i think, for a lot of us, the concern here is that we have not good day good
job of making the argument. but i think i can well and manage and there will be some people who would say, i am just not convinced. i think you got the balance wrong in terms of how you are thinking about the individual rights and the dignity, to be free from insults. they will say, hey, the united states is not absolutist when it comes to freedom of expression. canada, where i'm from, criminalizes expression of hatred. do any of you think that the argument may not have purchased with a certain generation out there? i think it is important question to ask. >> anyone who has that point of view, i continue to respect and would be happy to go to have a bite or to eat with him or her. we have a specific skills deficit in this country. we have to find a solution.
if it is not this, than what is it? otherwise, we will continue to have disruption, rain corps rancor. at one event we had a melee that followed a speaker advent. we have to elevate the skills of citizenship to be an important objective of higher education. i think if we agree on the goal, ron, we can figure out what the best path is to achieve it. but i hope we can agree that we need a more civil society, a more civil discourse and more opportunity for people to express themselves and seek knowledge in a community that respects everyone's point of view. ind of > i agree. democracy is kind of difficult,
to say the least. freedom of expression has been an issue before the u.s. supreme court on how many different occasions? i happen to be a lawyer. it is still growing, it is still growing. it is still maturing. and now it is being challenged by diversity, equity and inclusion. and now you say to someone, okay, i disagree fundamentally and i am done with you. that is not the answer. continue to include that individual, continue to grow. continue to mature and understand fundamentally that democracy, while challenging, is the best in the world. freedom of expression is the foundation of success in this country and on our colleges and university campuses. if we as a country want a better tomorrow, than this law is fundamentally with our youth. and we create those who
understand, those who provide civic leadership, those who can make sure there is respect that is alive and well, who can disagree without being disagreeable. that is the future and that is colleges and universities. that is why i am so contribute o the bipartisan policy council, and particularly, this is the beginning of a new day for civic responsibility and leadership in the country. i hope our college and university presidents across the country will see if their leadership and responsibility -- to see it is there charge for leadership and responsibility is better tomorrow than today. pres. daniels: thank you. over to you. dr. merrill: thank you. thank you to ronald daniels, task force members,1, --chris gregoire, pete wehner, and the
panel. thank you for joining us. this is available for download on our website, bipartisanpolicy.org. the task force members will share the report in the weeks ahead and signing at a variety of symposium forums, including at the upcoming conference, the lutheran education conference,, and we plan events at six usa college chapters across the country, and events and engagements with college presidents who are elected in office, including the former u.s. representative stephanie samberg, and the bellevue college interim president and former governor gary locke. again, the report is available for download at bipartisanpolicy.org. you can reach the task force bite writing to us at the email
address. all of us at the bipartisan policy center are wishing you those on college campuses the best for the spring 20 22 semester. we know it has been a challenging 2021, so we are wishing you the best to return to a more normal academic setting. thank you our audience and joining us today. best wishes for the holidays. than is infecting