So to Speak podcast transcript: Trigger warnings and DEI statements

October 25, 2021

Note: This is an unedited rush transcript. Please check any quotations against the audio recording.

Nico Perrino: Hello, and welcome back to So to Speak, the free speech podcast where every other week we take an uncensored look at the world of free expression through personal stories and candid conversations. I am your host, Nico Perrino, and today we’re heading back to college campuses where we’ll be diving into two of the more contentious debates surrounding academic freedom. The first is the rising prevalence of so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion statements for college faculty job applications and evaluations. While these requirements, you know, for these sort of diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, we’ll call them DEI statements throughout the course of this conversation, they differ from school to school and we’ll get into that bit.

But in short, they generally require faculty to write a statement attesting to their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and how their past work inside and outside the classroom supports these values and how they plan to commit to these values in their current or prospective job, and if they fail to demonstrate sufficient commitment, they could get passed over for this new job or not be promoted within the current one. Are these political litmus tests and violations of academic freedom and freedom of conscience? Some say so, and we’ll explore throughout the course of this conversation. The second topic we’ll cover today are trigger warnings. I think most of our listeners are familiar with what those are. There’s new research out that’s just they aren’t quite as effective in achieving their proponents desired goals when the proponents use them, of course, and they may actually work against those goals.

Now, joining us to discuss these topics are Carleton College Professors Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Snyder, they’ve co-authored essays on both of these topics this year for The Chronicle of Higher Education, those articles are titled, How to Fix Diversity and Equity and The Data Is In – Trigger Warnings Don’t Work. Khalid is a returning guest to the show, you’ll recall her from two episodes ago with Nadine Strossen and Matt Taibbi. She’s a history professor who specializes in modern South Asian history and the history of medicine, and she also hosts a new excellent podcast called Banished, which explores what happens when people, ideas, and works of art come into conflict with our modern sensibilities.

And Snyder is a Professor of Educational Studies whose work explores the intersections between the history of education and broader trends in U.S. cultural and intellectual history, I’m sure he’s quite busy these days. He’s also the author of the 2018 book, Making Black History: The Color Line, Culture and Race in the Age of Jim Crow. Amna and Jeff, welcome on to the show.

Amna Khalid: Thank you for having us.

Jeffrey Snyder: Yes, thanks so much.

Nico: We’re recording for the third time because we had some technical difficulties with the last two, so, hopefully, the third time is the charm. I wanna waste no time in getting started, let’s dive in. These DEI statements, diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, I wasn’t hearing about these 10 years ago when I started at FIRE. They seemed to have burst on to the scene in the last couple of years. Jeff, was I missing something 10 years ago or did they really just start to kind of rise in prevalence within the academy?

Jeff: Yeah. So, I’d say about 10 years ago I’m sure that some institutions may have asked people to write diversity statements, but it is definitely only in the last two or three years that DEI statements have been used as a mechanism for hiring review, and promotions, so that is absolutely a new development. I do think it’s important to place these diversity statement initiatives in a broader context of attempts to diversify higher education and this, of course, goes back to the 1960s and ‘70s, affirmative action, and strong initiatives and push on the part of institutions of higher education to diversify both their student body and faculty, and you can see those continuing though the ‘80s and ‘90s in terms of different recruitment initiatives. So, in some ways, these diversity statements are a natural extension of the kind of work in this space that’s been happening over the past really 40 or 50 years.

Nico: I wanna read some of these diversity statements because I think that will help contextualize this conversation. We had our interns this past summer go through a lot of the job listings at many colleges across the country and pull out examples that they had from these various colleges. You know, California Institute of Technology, they had an Assistant Professor of Economics position which stated: “Applicants should submit a diversity and inclusion statement to discuss his past or anticipated contributions to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the areas of research, teaching, and/or outreach.” UCLA, actually, has instituted a schoolwide mandate that applications for regular running faculty positions include diversity statements, and that reads: “Statements on contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion and EDI statements describes a faculty can at his past, present, and future or planned contributions to DEI.” And then, they say, “To learn more about how UCLA thinks about contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion, please review our sample guidance for candidates and related EDI statements.” I’m trying to see here whether there’s any that kinda differ from those first two. There’s another one at the University of Florida for a Full Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, Yale has one for Professor in the Nursing School which is actually a little bit different and I think goes further than those previous ones said, “Faculty members in the Yale School of Nursing contribute to the tripartite mission of practice, scholarship, and teaching – ” And then, it goes on to say, “– with an overarching effort to support social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism/anti-oppression, and reconciliation.” And then you have a couple of statements or requests for statements that are optional.

So, University of Texas at Austin, they have a Professor of Economics position that said, “Applicants are encouraged to discuss in their cover letter or separate statement, their past contributions to DEI.” Stanford has a Professor of Film and Documentary that says, “Candidates may optionally include as part of their research and teaching statement a brief discussion how they work to further these ideals.” What are some of the problems with these, from your perspectives? You know, in the article you wrote for The Chronicle, I think it’s very clear that in some cases you sympathize with the aims but you think these statements are the wrong vehicle to achieving those ends and they actually violate some important values of the university, how so? What do you see as the problem?

Amna: So, I’ll take that question and let me begin by saying that the intention behind these statements or the requiring of these statements is pretty noble. You know, the fact is that higher ed has been dominated by certain groups of people for a long period of time and diversity in the abstract is a good idea as is inclusion, however, the question is how are we thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion and how are we defining them? What we’re finding is that most of these terms are highly ideologically defined, whereby, for instance, diversity means only demographic diversity, it is not taking class into consideration, it is not taking other axes into consideration, identity axes, and the trouble with that is that it very quickly turns into a box checking exercise and becomes very meaningless.

So, while we have great respect for the intentions behind them, this is not the way to achieve those. The other thing is, there’s very little discussion of what we actually mean by diversity, equity, and inclusion. These are big terms that sound really good. Of course, you’re on board with diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the trouble is when you critique it, people often kind of, they have this knee-jerk reaction, they say, “Well, what? You’re not in favor of anti-racism?” Well, we are in favor of anti-racism, we’re just not in favor of anti-racism inc. which is a term that we’ve used which is this new brand of anti-racism which is highly prescriptive defines exactly what counts as racist or not racist. And finally, the final point I was saying, we can talk about this in more detail is, you know, some of these values can actually, at times, be in conflict, but there is no discussion about how diversity and inclusion can actually be in conflict.

There’s this understanding because they sound good, we bunch them together and there we go, we’ve got a neat little package and now everyone has to address it. The trouble is when you don’t define these things in a sophisticated fashion, people will use the requisite jargon which has emerged just to say that they’re doing these things and it becomes very quickly a meaningless exercise.

Jeff: If I could just, can I jump in just to step back and reinforce a point that Amna made about the good intentions behind these efforts. So, I’m a historian of education, right? And if you look at the history of higher education in the United States, it has been an overwhelmingly elitist endeavor for many, many years. I think this stat is correct circa 1965 something like over 90 percent of students attending colleges and universities were white males, right? So, you can see that there’s been systematic underrepresentation of particular groups on college campuses, and some of that is due to very serious legacies of systematic discrimination, right? So, people have been actively prevented from enrolling in certain schools, right?

If you were black in the south in the 1940s, you weren’t gonna be able to go to what we call today a predominantly white institution, right? So, you have this historical piece that I think is very important that’s motivating DEI initiatives. You also have, what I think, is a noteworthy mismatch between the composition of faculty on college universities and the composition of students. So, I’m gonna look at my notes here and just mention. So, I’m looking at stats from 2017. In 2017, 6 percent of faculty members were black and 5 percent were Hispanic. Now, compare that to the student body, black students make up to 14 percent of students at college universities and Hispanic students make up 20 percent. These are numbers for the undergraduate student population. So, I think these discrepancies are jarring and they’re well worth paying attention to.

Nico: Now, you know, I think we all recognize that there’s a role within a college and university environment to making sure that, you know, diverse perspectives exist, that the student body is reflective of the society at large so that you get those differing in perspectives, right, and that when, you know, people who are on campus, that they feel welcome and able to contribute. But the question with the diversity equity, and inclusion statements is there seems to be a layer of ideology across it and, Amna, you got to that. A lot of these statements, and you’ll see this in some of the policies, came out of working group committees that went into effect after the George Floyd protest, for example.

Last year some of them were explicitly called anti-racism committees and anti-racism is a particular perspective on racism in society. It’s not the definitive definition of racism or how to address racism, but they’re putting together these committees which were very much en vogue, anti-racism, was very much en vogue last year, and creating prescriptions for what the university should do in support of this ideology called anti-racism. And then, some of the cases, they were asked to, you know, implement these diversity, equity, and inclusion statements not defining what diversity means, not defining what inclusion means, and not defining what equity means.

And I ended there on equity because equity is a word that is also become very vogue lately, particularly on the left, within progressive circles that is more ideologically loaded than perhaps a quality which is the word that was used in it’s place for many, many years. And just like many other issues that we might deal with, immigration, patriotism, maybe free speech even, you know, the concern with this sort of issue seems to map politically in a certain direction, you know, progressives seems to be very interested in this. And it’s not to say that conservatives or libertarians or any other political persuasion isn’t as concerned with it, or isn’t concerned that the student body be diverse, they’re just not concerned about it in the same way.

So, the concern that I have, you know, as someone who cares about an actual diverse student body and faculty, is that they’re just gonna use this as a litmus test or a screening tool to root out people who do not ascribe to the anti-racism view of DEI or even to the progressive view of DEI, and even though some of these colleges and universities say that it’s not gonna be used as a criteria to root people out, some of them say it actually will be and we can talk about UC Berkeley and some of the stats that you had there, you can’t prove a negative. You can’t prove that someone wasn’t hired because they didn’t write, you know, a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement that kinda mapped on to the political lanes, the people who wanted to implement these, they just don’t get hired, right? I’m gonna stop there because, Amna, seems like you have some thoughts.

Amna: No, I couldn’t agree more. I think this is exactly why we’re so critical of these because it will become very difficult to prove that they were being used as a political litmus test, yet the fact of the matter is that they opened the door, the conversations that we’ve seen taking place on campuses, being reproduced in these kinds of mandates for such statements, are very indicative of a very particular ideological position. Now, the trouble with that is, that, I think, you know, we already have campuses where diverse points of view are not necessarily welcome and we’re defining diversity in such a narrow way, but it will become a codule for actually even further marginalizing those points of view which are already not welcome.

So, you know, FIRE has data on this, Heterodox Academy has done work on this, that campuses are, you know, predominantly liberal and left leaning in terms of their ideological makeup, and conservative voices are already feeling shut out and isolated. Now, with this kind of mechanism, we’re actually putting into place a system through which these people can be screened out and never, you know, no one can be held accountable because no one can actually come back and say you’re using this as a political litmus test. So, there are many levels at which there is this gap between what the aspiration is and what the actual outcome is. And what bothers me the most is that we’re using all these terms that, again, sound good but they can be mobilized to do things that are deeply harmful.

Jeff: So, yeah, I mean, I would note the right the extent to which these statements will be used as litmus tests or screening tools is an empirical question that we’ll never be able answer, right? Because these hiring committees, for very good reasons, are, you know, meetings are held behind closed doors, there’s confidentiality. So, I must say that I am very worried and concerned about that element in the hiring process. The connection to academic freedom that Amna eluded to, to me is an even more pressing concern and I’d like to elaborate on something that Amna mentioned, right, which is when you were reading through the job descriptions and the cause for diversity statements, right, you’ll see in many of them, if not the majority of them, at this point, an explicit connection to anti-racism. Now, I think, I suspect that the overwhelming majority of faculty, no matter their ethnoracial background, on college campuses across this country and aspiring faculty members are anti-racist broadly construed, right? They wanna live in a fairer society where people are not discriminated against on the basis of their race.

That said, as Amna mentioned, anti-racism, what we call anti-racism inc., has a very specific and a highly ideological meaning. And so, I’m worried about the use of terms like that not just in these kinds of diversity statements, but more broadly across college and university campuses, right? So, you’ll have diversity or anti-racism training, and now you even have specific positions in different fields, especially in the fields of educational studies where anti-racist is part of the job description, right, a policy position, the Anti-racist Professor of Educational Policy. So, the crux here to me is that there is no space allowed here for differences of opinion within what you might call anti-racism discussions or debates.

So, to give a specific example, I’m thinking of, you know, it’s easy to be committed to anti-racism as an abstract principle, then the question is well, what are the policies that we might pursue? Let’s just think about affirmative action, right? You have people across the political spectrum, smart, well-informed people who disagree on that and I’m thinking of Randall Kennedy who I think has been on this podcast, right, lawyer at the Harvard Law School who is a very strong proponent of affirmative action, also identifies as a liberal. You have somebody like Michelle Alexander who wrote The New Jim Crow, she’s opposed to affirmative action, right, on the grounds that it privileges elites and doesn’t pay enough attention to reinvesting in public education at the K-12 level. So, I think when you have these terms that are so ideologically driven, it completely squeezes out the space for more meaningful discussions and debates about specific policies.

Nico: Yeah. Yeah, two points on what you just brought up there, Jeff. On the question of how you’ll actually be able to determine whether this is a political litmus test when faculty hiring committees are reviewing applications, it makes me think to kind of the parallel research that’s been done about resumes that have traditionally black names on them, right? When a hiring manager is looking at it and they see the black name, perhaps, and they throw it in the “do not hire pile,” the evidence to prove that they were discriminating against that person is very little because there’s no paper trail, right? It just kinda went into the “do not hire” pile with the other 100 applications that went in. So, the only reason we know that sort of discrimination happens is because you can do sort of kind of like a holistic, you know, broad spectrum analysis of it and that’s the only way you kinda will be able to determine that here is like, are fewer conservatives getting hired, for example, after the implementation of DEI statements at a given school than there were before?

Now, the challenge there is that there are very few conservatives getting hired in the first place, and I think there’s some anonymous research that determine that hiring committees will actually screen out conservatives if they think that they are conservative. Amna, you’ve got something you wanna say here?

Amna: I do want to say something and I think you’re right, you know, that this could very well be used as a tool to screen out conservatives, but let me give you an example. I want to take this away from a purely right/left issue, right? The fact is that, Jeff and I for instance, we both identify as liberals. We identity as significantly left of center yet we’re highly critical of this new DEI machinery and anit-racism inc. So, it’s not just about cutting out diversity of viewpoints when they’re coming from the conservatives, it’s also about really creating a very narrow vision of what is acceptable on campus and that, to me, is chilling. It’s chilling because we’re even shutting out the diversity of viewpoint within our so-called political camp, and this wreaks of indoctrination and kind of authoritarianism, intellectual authoritarianism which is very disturbing on an American higher ed campus.

Jeff: Can I just build on what Amna is saying here?

Nico: Yeah, of course.

Jeff: If you think about free expression and threats to free expression, right? When a particular idea or concept or political ideology becomes so sacrosanct, so sacred that it’s beyond reproach, we should all be worried no matter what out politics are. And so, I’m just thinking of this recent case, right, of the University of Chicago Geophysicist, Dorian Abbot, who wrote, as far as I know, he’s an accomplished geophysicist, is published widely, he had been invoted to give a talk, a prestigious public talk at MIT within his area of expertise, geophysics, and students and some faculty made a ruckus because he had written an op-ed in Newsweek. I think it was back in August where he called into question the wisdom of some of the DEI initiatives. If you read his piece, you know, there are things I agree with, there are things I disagree with, but it’s in no way beyond the pale, it’s in no way not reflective of points of view that are held, in some cases, by a majority of U.S. citizens, but you found the response was so disproportionate that the very fact that he was critiquing DEI as an ideology, as a set of initiatives, was so offensive and alarming to these people that he should be actively, you know, disinvited, de-platformed, or whatever you want to say.

So, to my mind, once you have any idea, doesn’t matter what it is, capitalism, Marxism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, if there’s an idea that is seen as beyond critique, that’s fundamentally antithetical to the mission of higher education, we’re really gonna be doing a great disservice, especially to our students. If we say, “Hey, you know what? We can’t even question these initiatives. We can’t even talk about how the definitions of the terms might be contested.”

Nico: Yeah. And you’re seeing that surrounding the term racism, right? You know, it’s becoming vogue again to create said segregated educational programing. You know, it’s unlawful, but we just sent a letter today to Elizabethtown College because they’re having an event that, you know, it says it’s only open to people of color or people who identify as people of color, you know, maybe they can wiggle out by saying identify, I don’t know. But we also saw this at Lewis and Clark College out on the West Coast in Portland. Some people with an old school view of racism might call those sorts of events racism or racists, but it’s kind of en vogue now in anti-racist community that you have separate spaces for white people and people of color.

Jeff: So, I see Amna wants to jump in, but really briefly, right? So, that’s a great example, right? So, racial affinity groups, are they a good idea? I don’t know. I’ve got my hunches, I’ve got my personal take, right? But the fact that some people don’t feel comfortable to say, “Hey, you know what? We’re breaking into racial affinity groups on our campus.” And, you know, I have some questions about that. Again, another topic that should be open to discussion and debate rather than, “Hey, this is the way things are and this is the policy.”

Amna: And to the country, many, many higher ed institutions have instituted these kinds of diversity trainings and anti-racist trainings which have mandated and expressly excluded people of certain backgrounds from these affinity groups. So, the question is, and if you raise that question on campus, where these affinity groups are being organized, you are seen as someone who is just not towing the line that should be towed, so, there are serious questions. I don’t wanna get into diversity training because that’s a whole separate conversation, but I’m happy to if you want to, but they are all over peace and there are similarities here in the things we’re talking about.

Nico: I wanna put some more meat on the bones here and quote from your piece where you talk about the University of California Berkeley which is adopted, and I’m quoting you here as adopted and even more elaborate three-tiered five-point scoring system. “In recent searches conducted by eight departments in the life sciences, it was used to sort through 893 eligible candidates. Candidates were first evaluated on knowledge about DEI and belonging, then on their track record in advancing DEI, and finally on their plans for advancing DEI, 679 of the candidates failed to progress through this trial by DEI metrics and did not even have their scholarly credentials evaluated.” Taking it to the absurd, you could have a Nobel Laureate apply for a job, if they don’t win this trial by DEI metrics, they won’t even have the chance to have their Nobel Laureate or scholarly credentials evaluated which seems ridiculous to my mind. But is the University of Berkely and your guy’s research the only one that’s kind of published these sort of metrics because they’re quite revealing?

Jeff: Can I make two brief points about this, they are revealing. One is, if you look at some of these institutions, I think Berkeley is an example of one that has a particularly kind of elaborate scoring system, but a lot if institutions have internal rubrics. They may not be publishing them, but they have internal rubrics for how they are going to assess DEI statements, and if you look at them, the categories are very narrowly defined, right? And so, a couple concerns that I have, one would be, as Amna used the phrase earlier, box ticking exercise. If I was a candidate applying to UC Berkeley and they said, “Okay, you need to submit a diversity statement.” What’s the first thing I would do? I would Google the second hit, would be a link to the Excel spreadsheet where they include the precise rubric. Any strategic applicant, who is in any degree thoughtful, is going to then tailor their statement accordingly, right? So, there’s a kind of a funnel effect when you have these particular metrics. The other point which I don’t think has come up in these cases, there’s something interesting here, in that, institutions are making individual applicants responsible for taking on the burden of DEI work. And why is that possibly problematic to use the jargon of the day? For many reasons, but one is almost no scholars receive training in DEI initiatives, right.

So, if you’re a physicist no matter your ethnoracial background and you’re applying for a particular faculty position, I guarantee you that the vast majority of physics programs don’t have support, training, or coursework that is related to developing DEI skills. So, there’s a way in which this is a kind of extra burden, another layer of expertise that faculty are meant to, I don’t know, magically develop on their own. So, you kinda have the institutional demands without the institutional supports. So, to me that’s an intriguing feature.

Nico: And as a result, you’re probably gonna get activists or more activists types who are gonna score better on these DEI rubrics.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Nico: I wanna quote again from your piece because you guys mentioned, I think Amna mentioned it earlier, the box checking exercise that this would encourage, and you just brought it up as well, Jeff, Campbell’s Law, quoting from you here, “One of the most robust principles in the social sciences states that the more an quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. In other words, when numerical metrics determine outcomes, people do things you don’t want them to do, they game the system. We shouldn’t be surprised that there are already guides and advice columns on how and how not to write a diversity statement.”

Amna: So, I believe at some point in the last few months inside higher ed, the most hit on article was how to write a diversity statement, and that’s very telling in itself that little piece of data that we have. I think this really encapsulates what I would call the newer liberalization of higher education. When we begin to narrow diversity down into these tiny little numerical things that we can check by rubric and then get the kind of person you want, it totally, fundamentally misunderstands what the point of diversity is. So, just allow me to riff a bit over here which is what is the point of diversity in higher education? Let’s dig down to the purpose of it. The entire point of diversity and why we want people from different backgrounds and different, you know, ethnicities or races or whatever different backgrounds you wanna talk about is so that they can bring a diverse perspective. It is about the perspective that we’re trying to get. But with these box checking exercises what you can get is people who look like the United Nations, but think exactly the same.

So, you are going to get that, it’s just a matter of checking those boxes but you’re going to be recruiting people who are mostly coming from similar kinds of institutions who think in the same way who have similar ideologies, but you’ll check the box of diversity and then actually, no one can hold you accountable and say, you’re not actually being true to your mission of trying to bring in diverse perspectives.

Jeff: Yeah, along these lines of diverse perspectives, right, diversity is one of these words that’s context-dependent. Who is the diverse student on a historically black college campus, right? And, actually, if you look at the websites of historically black college universities, the diversity that they tout if often geographic, right, students from all 50 states or students from 25 different countries, so context is key.

Nico: I wanna turn now to kind of the end of your piece and pause at a question where you can kind of explain how to maybe make these DEI statements less ideological or less of a litmus test. Harvard and MIT, for example, when I was going through the statements, they don’t have the words diversity, equity, and inclusion, I think they define it as diversity, inclusion, and belonging. And I wanna ask if colleges and universities ask you to submit these statements but they cabinet to your work within the classroom and in advising students and peers, would they be less ideologically laden because they don’t kind of encourage you to talk about your consulting work or your activism, political or otherwise? And they’re just kinda saying tell me what you do in the course of your teaching and in the course of your work on campus that encourages inclusion within the classroom and within the community, encourages belonging, kind of cutting out that equity word which is more politically laden in my opinion, than the other two words, for example.

Amna: So, I wanna come in here, belonging is a whole separate thing and I can talk about it. But when it comes to what are you doing in your classroom to bring in diverse perspectives? That’s your job, that’s what we should all be doing in any case. Now, if we are asking that question in these statements, I think it’s fine, as long as, we are articulate what we mean by diversity or by diverse perspectives. It’s not just bringing in voices that are coming from people who look different, but actually how we encourage and debate in discussion about a topic such that we are bringing viewpoint diversity on that topic into our classroom, and that’s not just political viewpoint diversity, but, you know, disciplinary viewpoint diversity. Now, if we’re going to frame it in that fashion and if we’re very clear about it, then we’re talking about something very different, that is a metric of, “Are we doing our job well?” which is that we should be representing the different points of view on a topic that there are in our classroom and teaching our students how to evaluate them vis-à-vis each other.

Jeff: Yeah. What I was going to say in terms of, you know, diversity being context-dependent, one of the enraging things about being involved in this debate is that, you know, DEI is often defined very abstractly so it can kind of include everything, but then when you get specific, I’ve noticed that people are much more hesitant to answer direct questions. So, here are some of the direct questions that I have posed to people and I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer, right? So, if you teach on an overwhelmingly liberal college campus and you decide that as part of your service to the community, you can even describe this as a kind of inclusion activity or service, would advising the student Republican Club count as DEI work?

In my view, the answer should probably be, yes. Will it count? In my view, the answer is probably almost certainly, no. And that’s about politics, but there are many other ways. I mean, you could also talk about religion, right? If working with students of a particular religious background, would that count for DEI work? So, this to me is one of the interesting features of this debate in that I find proponents of these diversity statements to be very slippery and difficult to pin down when you ask specifics, and I actually asked somebody, I was like, look with Glenn Loury, like, we all know Glenn Loury, right?

Nico: Yeah, he’s been on the show. Yeah.

Jeff: A conservative black economist at Brown. If he, you know, was going to do work elsewhere and got hired away, would people think of Glenn Loury and his work as being a contribution to DEI on that campus? Again, why I pose these questions, it’s always radio silence.

Amna: Let me just come in here and point out, as we have, in our article as well that on our own campus we were mandated to do anti-racism training, and we ask the trainer and the trainer said anyone who was not committed to dismantling white supremacy that work would not count as DEI work. So, I can’t make it more clear than that how ideological this entire enterprise is that speaks for itself.

Nico: Yeah. I think the amorphous nature of these statements is just meant, you know, when we talk about them not defining the terms, for example, some of them are optional, I don’t know that that matters entirely. I think what the effort here is is just to kind of get people to talk about this and then read between the lines where they might fall in the ideological spectrum and whether they’d fit within the dogma or orthodoxy that’s trying to be created and they would never describe it as that, but I think that’s kind of the impact here as we’re trying to create an orthodoxy on campus and we kinda wanna use this very sophisticated way of weeding out people who might not fall within that, it’s impossible to improve, right? And that’s what makes this so brilliant from their perspective is that, you know, you could make the arguments that this isn’t contrary to open inquiry values and then just very sophisticatedly root out those who wouldn’t fit the orthodoxy.

Jeff: Can I just draw a quick distinction? I mean, in many cases I think I would find a lot of the work that candidates are highlighting in DEI statements conventionally defined as really valuable, right? So, if you have a candidate who was in physics and had worked, I don’t know, for example, in an organization with women in STEM. How do you get young girls and young women interested in physics? To me, that’s important work, it should be incorporated as part of your holistic assessment of that applicant. Well, there’s a difference between recognizing the expertise and work that candidates have, the passions and commitments that they have, their background experiences, and expecting all applicants to develop that kind of expertise. So, does that distinction make sense?

Nico: Yeah, that distinction does make sense. I wanna ask one more question before we turn to trigger warnings and that is there are some departments, for example, and this gets into the distinction between individual and departmental academic freedom, that build their whole, you know, reputation around being surrounding having their academics have a singular point of view. For example, I’m thinking of the University of Chicago Economics Department, you know, under Milton Freeman, for example, or George Mason, today their academics department comes from a libertarian perspective, but even taken out of the realm of politics or policy, you know, you have history departments that take up certain perspective on American history, or you know, antiquity, for example, and they’re probably not encouraging people who divert from those perspectives to apply, but that’s maybe okay because the institutional disconfirmation that needs to happen within academia happens because you have other departments with diverse perspectives and other journals that publish those with diverse perspectives.

So, the challenge I’ve always had in thinking about DEI statements is, especially when they come from the departmental level, is like, well, do we have a problem with that, with departments hiring for a certain perspective, and where does this kinda, you know, the ideologically laden DEI statements that we might be concerned about fit in there or the litmus tests that you might see fit in there? And I don’t have a good answer for that because I do think there is a role for departments that take individual perspectives and build their reputation and prestige surrounding that.

Amna: So, here’s where I’ll come in. I actually do have a problem with if you are teaching in a fashion, I can imagine that there are specialists in the department. You know, you need a critical mass for a certain kind of research that is framed within a particular framework. That is fine, but as far as teaching is concerned, I think it is absolutely imperative and we are shortchanging our students if we are pushing a perspective in our classrooms. Now, again, I want to make this distinction, this is distinct from how we do our research or how we align ourselves in our research, but as educators, we have the responsibility to make our students aware of different points of view.

And, of course, these departments where you have people doing research in a particular area from a particular angle will attract students who were interested in that and that is fine, but it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are exposing them to different points of view. So, I’m actually not okay with a department hiring someone, for their research agenda is a different thing, but if they’re hiring them to tow a particular line in the classroom, that is wrong.
Jeff: I agree 100 percent, right? Because if you think about viewpoint diversity, there are different sources of viewpoint diversity, one might be your ideological leanings, another is your academic training. So, precisely, I think if you went to a history department and everybody did social history and nobody did cultural history or intellectual history, these may be meaningless terms to people who aren’t professional historians, but they really represent distinctive intellectual traditions, right, where you ask different kinds of questions and you look to different kinds of historical evidence. To me, that kind of intellectual paradigmatic diversity, if you will, would be equally important as having a campus with, you know, Republicans, Libertarians, Independence, Liberals, Progressives, and others.

Nico: Amna, do you have a final note on that topic before we move on to trigger warnings?

Amna: I would just like to say I think, you know, this is something that Jeff and I talk about often and are working on a paper to present soon, but there is something limited in how we talk about viewpoint diversity. We have limited it to political viewpoint, and I think that’s not helping the conversation. If we genuinely want to talk about viewpoint diversity which is absolutely vital for any institution of higher education, we really need to open it up and think about it in broader terms.

Nico: Yeah. I think it rests on the political diversity of a certain respect because that seems to be where the flashpoints are whether it’s, you know, conversations on campus surrounding immigration, or racism, or CRT, for example. You know, they tend to hit around political flashpoints, policy issues, in a way they don’t, you know, your approach to scholarship like I wish they almost did on the latter because that might be a more fun and less politically charged debate, but here we are.

Amna: I wonder if, you know, we took a different approach to it and came to it from a different way maybe it would diffuse some of this conversation around politically charged stuff and maybe it wouldn’t become so binary, it’s just a proposition. But I think by conceiving of it in these terms that become flashpoints, we’re actually ignoring some of where the problem really is and if we focused on that, then maybe this would be less of a problem. It’s a hypothesis proposal.

Nico: Yeah, but I think you also have a chicken in the egg problem, you know, to the extent that something is not politicized once it becomes a flashpoint, it necessarily almost becomes politicized because people tend to sort along political lines even if they’re not intentionally doing so, you know, because they tend to check the identities of the people making the position and for whatever reason, you know, call it the normal curve or whatever, they seem to fall on different sides of the spectrum. Like, for example, I’m continuously astounded that it’s Republicans who have rejected the vaccine mandates just because historically, it’s more been like a very, very left wing concern with vaccines and not a right wing concern and the concerns about bodily autonomy and contagions have tend to not fit within the Republican framework or the conservative framework.

So, it’s just weird how things sort themselves out, you know, apolitical topics or marginally political topics sort themselves out along political lines once they become a flashpoint of some sort. I wanna turn to trigger warnings now because your article published, I believe, last month in September and I’ve got the title here: The Data Is In – Trigger Warnings Don’t Work. A decade ago, there was little research on their effectiveness, now we know and made some waves, and one of the things that FIRE had always seen throughout our history is that trigger warnings were used and there was an argument made for them on behalf of those who used them, but they were never really mandated within colleges and universities.

I think we found two colleges, and I believe it was on the department level that mandated them. I know Drexel University in Philadelphia was one of them and it was only in a certain context to the extent we saw a problem with them from an academic freedom standpoint. It was like, it was a faculty member would show some “triggering” content, students would complain to the college or university, and then the college, not referencing any policy that mandated they use them, would be upset or frustrated or concerned that the faculty member didn’t use them before the student became offended.

But this concern around trigger warnings and the effect on mental health and their actual value in ameliorating Post-traumatic stress disorder concerns, you know, was what Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff wrote about in The Coddling of the American Mind and even then when they first published that in 2015, there was very little research on it, but now there is. So, if you guys would talk a little bit about the research and what you had been seeing that sparked you to write this article, I think that would be valuable, and maybe in the course of doing that, speak to the reasons that these were implemented and how the research kind of shows that the thesis undergirding them fell apart when put to the empirical test.

Amna: Right. So, let me, again, begin by, and this is a similarity between what we were talking about before and the issue of trigger warnings, is that the intentions are good behind these and this is the trouble. You know, good intentions are actually the most problematic things because they can result in really troublesome outcomes, but nobody wants to call them out because the intentions were good. So, those who were issuing trigger warnings, it sounds like a compassionate thing to do, and why not do it if there is a student struggling? And the idea was that it would help students, at least that’s how it was proposed initially.

Jeff: Students with PTSD, you should talk about that.

Amna: Yeah, students with PTSD, it would help them engage with material that would otherwise be triggering and cause a condition for them, right. But now, there is research and there are a number of things that it shows. The research shows one, that trigger warnings are not helpful, in general, especially to PTSD populations, they have been shown not to be working. Not only are they not working, they seem to be insofar as the research, you know, the research is limited, but the conclusion that we have is that they’re actually harmful.

Jeff: But let’s spell out the logic here just to take a step back and be clear because if you look at the original proponents for trigger warnings on college campuses and in classroom contexts writing around the time that Coddling came out circa in 2014, 2015, the idea was that for this specific population of students, students with diagnosed cases of PTSD, the idea was that providing a trigger warning would be a kind of an emotional heads up. Maybe that’s not the right phrase. It would be a heads up in order for students to be able to manage their emotions. So, the underlying theory was let’s use these warnings for this particular population of students so that they can prepare themselves to engage with the material and not be emotionally overwhelmed because what psychological research does show is that if you do suffer from PTSD and you are triggered, you are absolutely not gonna be in a state where you can learn effectively, right?

So, the idea was, it was almost a tool of emotional regulation, right? Let’s try to avoid this overwhelming stress response, so you can concentrate on the material at hand. So, when Amna and I and when the researchers say they don’t work, what they mean is something more, I don’t know, more specific and that the finding, and this is a pretty strong consensus, the finding is that issuing these trigger warnings does not reduce stress or anxiety, and that’s true for both the general population of students, those without a history of trauma, and that’s also true for students with PTSD. So, that’s the kind of mechanisms and the underlying logic based on what we know so far from the psychological research, it doesn’t support the original case that was made for their usage.

Nico: But even if the data did find that it lowered a student’s anxiety, for example, what’s being proposed here as a medical intervention on behalf of faculty members, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember reading that it’s not often so straight forward what will trigger an emotional response. It’s not always, you know, I experienced a sexual assault, this piece of content has themes of sexual assault in it, and that’s gonna trigger me. I’ve read that it’s often a sound or a smell even that can trigger these sorts of responses and, you know, how do you account for the entire universe if someone’s triggering?

It’s as if you’re almost asking faculty or faculty are taking it upon themselves in some cases, to be the medical professional. And the other concern here is that mental health professionals who deal with this sort of trauma say that telling people to avoid the trauma or triggering words is actually detrimental because, you know, the remedy for this is not avoidance but planned exposure or, you know, in moderation to these triggers so that people can go on to live their lives without, you know, having emotional or anxiety or distress as a result of it.

Jeff: So, I mean, this is an extremely important point that you raise which is what is it that may trigger the population of students that have PTSD? And as you said, it’s not particular topics, it’s sensory stimuli, and so, when Amna and I first started to look into the research, I reached out to one of my best friends who’s a psychiatrist, M.D. psychiatrist, has worked with many veterans in Massachusetts and I said, “Hey, can you give me an example of some triggers?” I just want to hit a few highlights because I think it’s very telling about how subjective and how unpredictable the triggers are. So, here’s 1.) Smell: a bonfire, liquors, mostly the whiskey types, burning wire. 2.) Hearing: a tractor mowing hay, whispering, different particularly low tone of voice. 3.) Tastes: bubble gum, condiments, especially A-1 sauce, hot coffee; visual images that have been triggers for some of his patients, the cartoon Michelin Man, and teaks, Halloween costumes. So, this gives you a sense of how wildly variable triggers are and I think that too many profs imagine that, “Okay, we have a disturbing topic, we need a warning.” But it’s not about intellectual concepts, it’s about sensory stimuli.

Nico: Yeah, and, you know, one of the questions that I have is if you’re concerned with triggers for students, you know, how do you create a directory of triggers that would account for everyone’s traumas, right, unless you go to every student that had that class and say, okay, please give me a list of your traumas, I’ll analyze my course content, and we’ll let you know if there is something within there that might trigger you. And then also, of course, makes you liable because then you know the triggers and if you don’t warn people, then, you know, you could be accused of traumatizing them in this, that, or the other, but, Amna, go ahead.

Amna: Can I just come in? I mean, even if you did that, I don’t think that people who suffer from PTSD necessarily always know what’s going to trigger them, that’s the other piece. They may, themselves, not be aware of what will be a trigger, so you can’t pre, you know, pre your class actually collect a list of triggers and then avoid them. The other thing is like, people process things in different ways. You give them a reading, you give them a video to watch, different things stick out to different people. There’s so many times I’ve shown something, and that’s the whole point of multiple interpretations, or we’ve read something and someone’s picked out something that I totally missed in a reading that I’ve done like 500 times, but that is the process of learning and engaging and bringing in different points and voices.

Jeff: And so, one of the issues here, Nico, and something that I’ve found intriguing, because we’ll talk about this with our students and the one argument that I found resonate with students who are initially sympathetic to the use of trigger warnings is to talk about the nature of education in a liberal arts institution often resolves around classroom discussion.

Nico: I was gonna bring this point up so I’m glad you’re doing it.

Jeff: And if you wanna have an organic classroom discussion, which is arguably, or at least in my view, the most powerful possible means of education, right, students are gonna be responding to one another, building on one another, you can’t possibly predict the direction that a classroom discussion is going to take. That’s part of what makes it magic, magical and beautiful, and so transformative, potentially. So, the idea that you could somehow even work with this concept of trigger warnings in the context of an education that is based on or centers discussion, to me just makes no sense at all, it’s an impossibility.

Nico: You guys noted in the beginning of this discussion the justification for this was to prepare students to engage with content in class, but in your article you talk about Professor Michael Bugeja, and I’m hoping I’m pronouncing his last name correctly. He’s an Iowa state journalism professor and he says that, “Trigger warnings are needed now more than ever and that all faculty members should follow his lead in implementing them.” and he has a note in his syllabi that says, “You don’t have to attend class if the content elicits an uncomfortable emotional response.” So, it’s not there that he was preparing to engage with the content, he’s giving them carte blanche to just ignore the content entirely if the content elicits, not even like trauma or anxiety, but an uncomfortable emotional response, and then you go on in the article later to make it a point that I hadn’t heard yet but strikes me as just obvious.

Jeff: Most of our points are obvious, Nico.

Nico: Yeah, but at the college level, I’m quoting you here, “We don’t believe the holocaust slavery, genocide, and other harrowing topics should come in two different versions, regular and light.” What you’re saying there, essentially, is if these topics are traumatizing to you, we can’t and we probably shouldn’t sanitize them if we want to seriously investigate them, right? And so, if you have a medical condition that precludes you from being able to discuss them, that’s probably something you should take up with a mental health professional, and we shouldn’t sanitize the entirety of course content for one particular individual. I mean, there also needs to be a certain kind of understanding on behalf of people who want to enroll at a college or university that certain discussions will happen that the content is often uncomfortable and, you know, you need to ask yourself whether you’re prepared for that yet or whether you might need to seek additional medical help before you’re able to matriculate.

Amna: So, this is where I think, you know, you’re getting to the heart of what our problem with trigger warnings are. You know, one is that it’s becoming an avenue for people to avoid encountering certain material. And, Professor Bugeja, who I think is a very thoughtful and compassionate professor, that’s very clear from how he structures his courses, nonetheless, provides this opt out option, and you really don’t have to do much except for send him an email and say I’m not comfortable with this. So, students, one, can use it as a way to avoid material, and we all know that some of the most transformative experiences in terms of learning come from when you contend with something difficult. And here we are in a moment when we’re talking about how the U.S. needs a racial reckoning, how we need to reckon with our past, now, that past is not easy to reckon with. And at one level we’re having student activists quite rightly saying we need to deal with this and this is the moment, you know, it’s been way too long, and then another level if we have an “out” to dealing with difficult material, then there is just no way we can do this, that’s one thing.

The second thing I’d like to say is that you have to think about what is the – so, this is from the student point of view that I talked about first, then you have to think about it from the faculty point of view, you know, no faculty enjoys being called by the deans office to be told anything other than being told you’re doing a good job which they never really do call and tell you. So, you know, being called and being, you know, having a problem to deal with when you’ve got 26 students each in one class, probably 50 in another class, you’ve got your home life, you don’t want to be dealing with a problem about some student was upset by something. So, when you look at readings and you’re planning your syllabus, you’re like, “Ah, this ones’ gonna cause some problem, I’m just gonna throw it out.”

Now, that is where academic freedom and trigger warnings are coming into, you know, they’re at loggerheads over here, and our duty as educators and as higher education is to privilege our mission which is learning and teaching and we need to have the freedom to do it. So, in the end what’s happening is we would be shortchanging our own students, this is not good for anyone.

Jeff: So, I just wanna briefly amplify a couple points that Amna made and really hammer them home because they are, to me, so essential to this discussion. One is that particular piece by the Iowa State professor, there’s a couple of noteworthy things that are representative of larger trends, one is it encourages faculty to use trigger warnings, not just for a specific population of students that have PTSD, but for all students, right? So, all of a sudden you’ve gone from a very small fraction of the student body to trigger warnings being potentially applicable to everyone, right. You also have a term, you know, I’m sure we’re all familiar with this idea of concept creep, right? So, rather than talking about triggers for material that is, potentially, really severely distressing, graphic, that prof lands on this phrase, you know, any material that elicits an uncomfortable emotional reaction. Students who attend, virtually, every single one of my classes are gonna be having uncomfortable emotional reactions, and that’s not because I’m putting them on the spot or I’m an inconsiderate teacher, it’s because the nature of the content that I teach as a historian of the United States is by definition disturbing. I just taught a class last week on eugenics, right. The history of eugenics in this country, including a legacy of tens of thousands of forced sterilizations of poor folks and folks of color in the early 20th century –

Nico: Justified by the Supreme Court –

Jeff: Yes.

Nico: – in Buck v. Bell, of course, yeah.

Jeff: – is incredibly disturbing, right? I don’t want any student to be able to exempt themselves from that class session because it’s gonna be uncomfortable. The discomfort is fundamentally related to the transformative potential of that material. So, I think Amna and I are especially worried about this kind of opt-out clause that you see either as a former policy or that we’ve observed, just through talking with students when I think about trigger warnings, and you’re like, “Yeah, well, why are you in support of them?” They’ll say things like, “Oh, because you give a heads up to students, and then if they don’t want to do that reading or go to that class session, it allows them to avoid that particular engagement.”

Nico: Yeah, FIRE is always operated, and I’ve talked about this in previous podcasts under what we call the strong student model. That is to say that students aren’t too weak to live with freedom, they’re not too weak to engage in this sort of uncomfortable and difficult and necessary conversations that happen on the college campuses, but that philosophy, you know, in the past five or six years has been challenged not by college administrators who were always the, you know, constituency who was challenging that philosophy but now by the students themselves. The student themselves are saying that they’re, and they probably wouldn’t phrase it that way, but they are too weak to live with or to get an education that privileges discomfort and difficult conversations over concerns about their “security” or well-being.

Amna: So, I just wanted to say, I mean, I think you’re really getting to the heart of the problem over here which is what the purpose of education and how we are approaching it? The model that I am familiar with and that I like to use is that we are here to empower our students, and our students are strong enough and, of course, we contextualize material, let me just be clear, we are not in favor of springing disturbing material on our students. I think there are many, many other ways of creating a compassionate and considerate classroom than using trigger warnings, so that’s not the point here.

But also, you know, it’s not just that students are asking for them, and I don’t even know if all students are asking for them, but it’s become one of those things through which you signal what your politics are, right, that you, “Oh, but you need to have trigger warnings, professor.” because then you are indicating that you are in a particular group that agrees that you need to privilege the feelings of other people. So, in some level, in some ways I feel like it’s also a virtue signaling ploy.

Nico: Yeah, well, and I will say, let me just back up a bit, you know, and there are some pedagogical reasons for springing things on students. You know, authors do it all the time with plot twists, for example, and if you’re teaching a literature course, you might not wanna know that the character is murdered at the end or that, you know, the young adult is, for example, raped thinking of a couple books where that’s a very significant plot twist. So, you know, offering these trigger warnings is also kind of a spoiler alert that diminishes the affect that was intended by the authors of the work.

Jeff: Jay Caspian Kang writing in the New Yorker in 2014, talked about how his professor gave a trigger warning before reading Lolita and I’m paraphrasing here and it was something to the effect of, “This novel is about the systematic rape of an underage girl.” right, something like that, and, you know, he talked about how that completely distorted his ability to engage with the novel, right.

Nico: Yeah. I mean, you learn pretty quick that, in Lolita, that that’s probably what’s going on, although, Nabokov, I don’t think ever states explicitly that that happened.

Jeff: Yes.

Nico: It’s been years since I remembered it –

Jeff: No. No.

Nico: – but it’s kinda telling you.

Jeff: That’s exactly right.

Nico: Yeah.

Jeff: It’s something that students need to discuss, not students, but anybody who reads literature needs to make these discoveries and inferences on their own, right? So, this is a huge problem with art and literature, you’re telegraphing to students the meaning of texts, the meaning of films, how they should interpret particular scenes, so, yeah, no, that is a big problem.

Nico: So, we’re almost at an hour here or we are at an hour here. Before we close this up, anything else? I wanted to add also, that I don’t think we explicitly said it, your guys’ article was based on an analysis of 17 different studies that have kind of come to the same conclusion on this, and I’ll link to the article on the show notes so that the listeners can take a look at your article and maybe dive deeper if they wanna explore that topic. You know, we’ve mentioned Coddling and while that’s not an official FIRE book, it is my boss’s book, and I will say on the topic of trigger warnings and social media and it’s effect on young people, they seem to have been ahead of the curve on those two very important topics, you know, with, of course, all the revelations about Instagram and everything they had in that book about it’s effect on young people and in particular young girls.

It seems as though that Facebook had discovered that on their own and didn’t want that to leak out and they’re book has sold like, I think, three quarters of a million copies or something. It’s done ridiculously well for a nonfiction book, but kudos to them for being ahead on the curve on both these topics. Anything either of you wanna add before we sign off here on either DEI or trigger warnings?

Jeff: The one other thing that I would say about trigger warnings, and I say this particularly for students who do not have a history of trauma or a history of PTSD, but it can encourage a kind of narcissism to our understanding and approach of material and content. And so, a really brief anecdote, one of my colleagues was telling me about a talk that was given by a woman who had fled the Democratic Republic of Congo during the civil war. The discussion, the talk that she gave was graphic, it was heart-rending, it was also extremely illuminating about the nature of what was happening in that region. So, she gave this talk showing enormous courage and bravery to speak in front of a group of, I can’t remember, maybe 100 different students, and one of the first reactions to the talk was a student who kinda ran up to the professor and said, “This talk should have come with a trigger warning.”

And, to my mind, that may be a point or a question that you want to raise, but it seems to me that should be number 10 on the list of those points in questions and that one should start by engaging with the content, one should start by acknowledging kind of the bravery of this person who came and shared their life experience with them. So, to me, it can kind of turn other people’s narratives, the key developments in U.S. history, whatever it is, plot twists in literature, turn them in such a way that everything is squarely in relation to me as an individual and my concerns and that, I don’t think, is helpful in terms of engaging with material if we think of it purely from an egocentric lens.

Nico: Yeah. I mean, the human experience is varied, right? And one of the most interesting things about exploring it is to explore people’s waywardness and their foibles and often that means exploring some of the unsavory parts of the human condition. I think the reason many people go to college or, for me, in particular, why I went to college is to be able to explore those issues in an unsanitized way, you know, to put the magnifying glass on humanity and ask the difficult questions, and I couldn’t imagine an environment where it’s scrubbed or, you know, a holocaust light, for example, as you guys write in your piece. It just doesn’t seem interesting to me.

Jeff: Not interesting and not accurate.

Nico: Yes. Yes. I just got done listening to a podcast by Dan Carlin about the Eastern Front and World War II and the savagery that happened on that front, and it’s a shame that, to the extent we talk about World War II, we often talk about the Western Front because that’s the front the Americans fought on. But the number of people who died in single battles on the Eastern Front was more than Americans lost in the entire war, the raping that happened on the Eastern Front, the holocaust by bullets that happened not just on the Nazi side but the Soviet side, and what the Soviets did to their own citizens using them as cannon fodder, essentially, Holy Cow, you know. You know, Dan Carlin didn’t put a trigger warning on it, and I’m glad he didn’t because now I have a greater conception of the horrors that humanity can inflict on itself, I’d recommend that to our listeners as well. I think it’s called The Ghosts of the Ostfront, but I think we’ll leave it there. Amna and Jeff, I appreciate you coming on and talking with me today and, hopefully, I can have you both on the show sometime again soon.

Amna: Thank you, Nico. This was fantastic.

Jeff: Yeah. Thank you so much, Nico, great questions.

Nico: Yeah. Those are Carleton College Professors, Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Snyder. They are the authors of two recent articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education, one being, How to Fix Diversity and Equity and the other being The Data Is In – Trigger Warnings Don’t Work.

This podcast is hosted and produced and recorded by me, Nico Perrino and edited by my colleague, Aaron Reese. To learn more about So To Speak, you can follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/freespeechtalk or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sotospeakpodcast. We do take email feedback, and I hear from you often, keep the emails coming, sotospeak@thefire.org, again, that email address is sotospeak@thefire.org. If you have any recommendations for shows, please send them my way. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please leave us a review at Apple Podcasts, Google Play, they help us attract new listeners to the show. Until next time, I thank you all again for listening.