Harvard University Pressures Freshmen to Sign ‘Civility’ Pledge

By on September 8, 2011

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff writes today in The Huffington Post on the coercive introduction of a civility pledge at Harvard College, the undergraduate college at Harvard University. The "Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge" commits students to building a "place where all can thrive and where the exercise of kindness holds a place on a par with intellectual attainment." Greg explains why such loyalty oaths have no place in an academy that should aim to be a "genuinely innovative and dynamic environment." Rather than pushing students to commit themselves to a system of moral values privileging kindness and civility before they have even taken their first class, Greg argues, institutions such as Harvard should remember that their mission is to help students learn how to think critically, not what to think, and to embark on "the truly difficult work of challenging their own assumptions and learning to think for themselves."