In a column
in today’s Daily Pennsylvanian
, University of Pennsylvania (Penn) freshman Jamie France commends Penn for its green light rating
on FIRE’s Spotlight. After explaining FIRE’s system of evaluation and pointing out that Penn and Dartmouth were the only Ivy League institutions to receive a green light, France wrote:
By allowing us to do and say what we want, within reason, Penn is fostering our potential to become the innovative minds of the future.
During a time when so few people have the confidence to voice heretical opinions, colleges must be responsible for instilling attitudes of boldness, in its students. Students who graduate with the ability to express themselves—who don’t feel constrained by a fear of being punished or, worse, misunderstood—will one day achieve far greater success than those who sit on the silent sidelines.
A perfect outlook. Use college to cultivate a certain comfort level where students feel at ease expressing themselves in an environment where their views may stir debate or face opposition. In a society where we are constantly bombarded with competing messages and forced to decide which beliefs to adopt as our own, it is crucial that our universities prepare their students for facing that inevitable “real world” where they need to be able to accept or disagree with an unlimited number of other expressions day in and day out. Students need to be unafraid of putting their own ideas into the mix, and spending time in an institution that values the fundamentals of free speech is an excellent starting point.