Currently viewing posts tagged with Jana Sawicki

Fatal Flaw

CHICAGO – The distinguished free speech absolutist, Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago, has reviewed the Sawicki Report and found it disappointing. To be more precise, he calls it “lame” and labels it “long and turgid.”

The only thing Coyne likes about the report is it dropped the suggestion floated earlier by Jana Sawicki at Inside Higher Education that each student group should have a faculty adviser who would “…talk with the club members about whether they’d thought through how the speaker’s views would affect their peers.”

Ultimately, Coyne asserts it is impossible to combine freedom of speech with inclusion and diversity.

Setting an example of simplicity and grace, Coyne introduces his article with a short and easy to understand summary of the Sawicki Report and its most significant and fatal flaw. “The committee’s statement does not constitute a policy,” he writes. “…it’s a farrago of good intentions and desires to balance free speech with diversity and inclusion. But it offers no guidelines about what speech is to be seen as “hate speech” that threatens “dignitary safety” and therefore subject to institutional action.”

Fans of Ephblog will note that Jerry Coyne quotes liberally from my recent Ephblog article accessing the Sawicki Report. As you may know, Jerry Coyne is a prominent “New Atheist” along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Reportedly, Coyne’s Why Evolution is True blogsite has over 50,000 e-mail subscribers.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010.

 

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Inside the Purple Rubble

The College Fix is linking to an article at Inside Higher Ed which reports that the committee created by President Maud Mandel last fall to make the school “both intellectually open and inclusive” plans to “focus on persuading, not ordering, student groups to avoid controversial speakers.” According to the committee chair, Prof. Jana Sawicki:

The goal is to not restrict who can speak on campus but to prompt the students who invite those guests to consider whether they have academic value and whether individual speakers’ views would offend minority students or make them feel harmed, she said, adding that speakers brought on campus by student groups are generally the most controversial.

One idea the committee floated was involving faculty advisers to student clubs in more of the discussions about which speakers to invite to the campus, Sawicki said. If a student group wanted to host a controversial speaker, the adviser could talk with the club members about whether they’d thought through how the speaker’s views would affect their peers, she said. The advisers, who currently are not involved in club operations, would never stop the students from hosting a speaker they wanted, Sawicki said.

The committee’s recommendations strike The College Fix as unrealistic. How, for example, can the school promote freedom of speech if the goal is to not offend minority students who have shown themselves to be intolerant of the views of even their white, liberal, elected student council representatives? One student was so offended by having to ask for funding for a black preview event that she went back later and called the white student representatives “d***heads.” As The College Fix reports:

Black student activists at Williams College are no shrinking violets. They took over a recent student government meeting, unloading a string of vulgarities against elected student leaders for allegedly favoring white students with more funding than black students get.

They used anti-gay and even anti-black language, if you can believe it: “to be here [at Williams] is like sucking white d*** every f***ing day.” “We want some money to f***ing cook some fried f***ing chicken and be n***ers.”

Williams College asks students not to invite speakers who ‘would offend minority students’

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