Black Pyramid Senior Honors Society hosts debate on campus free speech

By Sarah Frazer || Staff Writer

The question of free speech on college campuses has been the topic of many conversations and was the subject that Dean Richter and Don Stinchfield sought to answer in their debate this past Thursday evening.

Dean Richter took the position that free speech is not threatened on college campuses while Don Stinchfield made the case that speech is, indeed, under threat, though both said that they actually agreed more than their arguments would suggest.

Don Stinchfield kicked off the debate by arguing that many faculty, staff, and students on college campuses want speech constrained.

Two data points he cited were: a) that there has been a measurable increase in the number of students entering college who think that colleges should prohibit the use of racist and sexist language; b) one way this attitudinal shift has manifested itself has been in the increase in the number of extreme speakers disinvited from campuses. In 2000 there were five or six speakers disinvited. In 2016 the number was over forty.

For her part, Dean Richter contended that students on college campuses are fully able, and even encouraged, to exercise their right to free speech. She argued that, while students may want free speech limited when they first get to college as Stinchfield said, these views changed over students’ four years of college, as they see the value of free speech. Richter emphasized that, in her view, the best antidote for speech one doesn’t like is more free speech and engagement with ideas.

Senior Sarah Frazer is a Staff Writer. Her email is sfrazer@fandm.edu.

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