Update (September 7, 2016): Many thanks to the 884 people who signed FIRE’s “Thank You” note to the University of Chicago (UChicago). FIRE sent the note to UChicago President Robert J. Zimmer, Dean of Students in the College and “academic freedom letter” author Jay Ellison, and law professor Geoffrey R. Stone yesterday.
If you missed your chance to sign the note, don’t worry: It’s not too late to help effect change on campus. Pledge your support today to the Chicago Statement on Free Expression and ask your school or alma mater to do the same.
The University of Chicago (UChicago) has taken a bold stand for academic freedom with a back-to-school letter to incoming students telling them not to expect “intellectual ‘safe spaces’” when they arrive on campus this fall. Now you can join FIRE in saying “Thank You” to UChicago for taking this important step.
UChicago’s letter is the first of its kind to push back against the growing trend of calls for censoring “offensive” or “uncomfortable” ideas. But as Dean of Students Jay Ellison points out, those efforts are misguided—especially at universities where free inquiry must be paramount:
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
Fostering the free exchange of ideas reinforces a related University priority—building a campus that welcomes people of all backgrounds. Diversity of opinion and background is a fundamental strength of our community. The members of our community must have the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas.
If you do too, please sign our “Thank You” note to the University of Chicago.
(While you’re at it, don’t forget to pledge your support for the Chicago Statement—the university’s 2015 commitment to freedom of expression that helps protect speech on campus—and ask that your school adopt a version.)
This article was originally published on August 29, 2016.