I have long believed that much of the learning that occurs on a college campus occurs outside of the classroom. Learning from discussions with classmates and exposure to ideas different than your own make us better and smarter people. We should not be threatened by new ideas but should learn from them.
Unfortunately, many colleges or their supporters, do not follow this type of policy. Rather, those that disagree with the accepted doctrine on campus are not welcome. This limitation on free speech has occurred several times this past year.
The University of Notre Dame invited President Obama to be their speaker at graduation as they have invited many presidents. But many on and off campus have petitioned against having the president speak because of his “clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage“.
Providence College denied permission for an opponent of illegal immigration to speak, in part, because the speaker’s views disagree with the local Catholic Bishop who is on the immigration law redlands ca.
The University of St. Thomas invited, then banned, then invited again, Bishop Desmond Tutu over alleged concerns that local Jews might be offended. No Jewish groups ever actually complained about the invitation.
King’s College in Pennsylvania, a catholic college, was criticized by the local bishop because their invited speaker for graduation was Senator Bob Casey. Although Senator Casey is Catholic himself and an opponent of abortion rights, he voted for a Secretary of Health and Human Services who is pro choice.
Colleges have the right as institutions to invite or not invite anyone they want to speak. Religious colleges have the absolute right to put the teachings of the church above freedom of expression. But as potential students, you need to understand whether the colleges you are considering limit freedom of speech.
Just as students consider the size and location of a college in deciding where to attend, the question of whether a college allows freedom of expression should also be a consideration in choosing a college.
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