When the institutions and traditions that made U.S. higher education great have been so much deconstructed, the obvious has to be codified, first at the University of Chicago, now at Princeton.
Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.
Chicago and Princeton are not, yet, subject to the whims of politicians who would reduce their universities to jumped-up trade schools.  But faculty push-back against the coddling of the Perpetually Aggrieved can only be a welcome development.
In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.

Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission.
That would be easier had the d**n hippies not trashed good manners as bourgeois and made vulgarity a feature of the counter-culture.

No comments: