Geoffrey R. Stone on the Campus Free Speech Debate

The State of the Campus Free Speech Crusade

Condemning the listmakers also comes easily to actual educators. “Publishing lists of names of professors or students potentially for the purpose of castigating them is generally not a good idea,” said the University of Chicago’s Geoffrey Stone, a First Amendment lawyer, legal scholar, and professor who’s long defended the intellectual freedom for which the University of Chicago is known. “It’s meant to be an effort to intimidate and to invite others to engage in intimidation.”

“On the other hand, if students feel there are certain professors who are advocates of certain views a student group finds offensive or irresponsible,” Stone said, “[There’s] nothing wrong with that.” He briefly entertained a comparison to students’ filing and following course evaluations, then adding that, “Everybody knows that’s not what this is about.” TPUSA’s professor watchlist provokes something different from the passive action (not taking someone’s class) that a critical eval would cause. “It’s like putting up lists of people you accuse of being Communists,” Stone said, alluding to an earlier chapter in his university’s history: Stone’s 2012 “Statement on principles of free inquiry,” aka the Stone Statement, crystallized the school’s long-held commitment before campus speech reached the level of a widely perceived “crisis” three years ago.

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