A Free Speech Group Is Formed by Thirteen US Universities

A proposal to support freedom of speech was recently unveiled by thirteen schools and universities in the United States. The strategy is a component of an initiative to combat what the schools describe as challenges to American democracy. New York’s Cornell University, New Jersey’s Rutgers University, Indiana’s Notre Dame University, a historically Black college in South Carolina, and Indiana’s Notre Dame University are among the participating universities. The Campus Call for Free Expression is the name of the initiative. The Princeton, New Jersey-based Institute for Citizens and Scholars is the group’s organizer. The Knight Foundation, a for-profit organization with headquarters in Miami, Florida, is funding it.


The attempt to protect free speech comes after students in a number of schools in the past prevented speakers from being invited to speak. The invited speaker’s papers, remarks, thoughts, and behavior were deemed disagreeable by the students. One of the universities in the consortium, James Madison University in Virginia, is led by President Jonathan Alger. According to him, the group is worried about the “deep polarization” that prevents Americans from having “constructive and civil” conversations about the differences between their opinions. According to him, universities and colleges must set an example for the country. In March 2022, the group began getting ready for The Campus Call for Free Expression. College presidents met at that time to talk about how to engage their students in democracy. The group advocated for each school to create its own curriculum and developed five guiding principles for free speech. The guidelines should be followed during convocations, special campus events, and new student orientations.


Developing knowledge that contradicts accepted ideas and presumptions; making decisions based on facts; comprehending one’s own values and learning to respect those who hold differing opinions; feeling accountable to others and the need to effect change; and realizing that freedom of expression has consequences and is not always met with approval are some of the principles. At Rutgers, the president is Jonathan Holloway. He claimed to have observed a rising disdain for American institutions and wished to combat those sentiments.


This year at Rutgers, Holloway will be teaching a first-year course on the definition of democracy. The class’s goal is to develop a curriculum that will enhance civic education. The nonprofit organizations endorsing the presidents express worry that college-age students could not be receiving instruction on civic engagement. The president of the Institute for Citizens and Scholars is Rajiv Vinnakota. According to him, when attending college, students join a community that is made up of more diverse individuals than they have ever encountered. His goal is for pupils to get the ability to communicate with individuals who hold varying perspectives and backgrounds.

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