Christopher Newport University Takes Stand For Free Speech

300px-CaptChristopherNewportStatue01We previously discussed the courageous stand of my alma mater, University of Chicago, against the growing speech codes and “safe spaces” in campuses around the country. Purdue University also took a stand in favor of free speech in adopting “the Chicago principles.” Now, Christopher Newport University (a university that I have long admired) has joined the ranks of free speech institutions with its own statement rejecting speech controls and regulations. The statement below states that “Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.” Bravo CNU Bravo.

Here is the statement from CNU, a model for other colleges and universities.

“Christopher Newport University educates students to be responsible citizens living lives of significance. An essential element of this education is the development of independent judgment. The acquisition of independent judgment requires that students be both required – and encouraged – to inquire deeply into old and new ideas alike. Students must learn how to subject ideas to the crucible of rigorous discussion and debate, and have their own ideas confronted with the same rigorous examination. Free inquiry is at the core of liberal learning. It can only flourish where the freedom of expression is not only respected, but valued. As has been observed by others, “without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university.”

Consequently, Christopher Newport University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, and offers to its students, faculty and staff the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn. Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community. Christopher Newport will not limit speech or discussion because the ideas put forth are thought by some – or even all – members of the community to be offensive, upsetting, unwise, immoral or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.

No freedom is absolute and every freedom carries with it personal responsibility. Therefore, as a corollary to the University’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with these principles. The University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it. Although faculty, students and staff are free to criticize, challenge, and condemn views expressed on campus by exercising their own right to speak, they may not obstruct, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with the expression of the views of others, though they may reject or even loathe them.

Equally important, members of the CNU community shall always exercise their freedom of expression in a manner that does not interfere with or disrupt the operation of the University or the activities of other members of the community. To ensure this, the University will reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression. But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression, and it is vitally important that these exceptions never be used in a manner that is inconsistent with the University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas. Speech which violates the law – including speech or conduct intended to threaten, harass or intimidate – will not be tolerated.

History teaches that life as a responsible citizen, in a free representative republic, is likely to require contesting offensive, unwarranted or dangerous ideas. However, obstruction or suppression of such ideas is neither appropriate nor, in the long run, effective. Instead, one must be prepared to engage in robust counter-speech that challenges the merits of ideas we disagree with, exposes them for what they are, dismantles specious arguments, and identifies fear mongering and fallacy. It is the responsibility and commitment of Christopher Newport University to educate our students in a culture that embraces individual freedom and the personal responsibility that comes with it.”

25 thoughts on “Christopher Newport University Takes Stand For Free Speech”

  1. Since JT loves to write about free speech, maybe he can explain how 2 million federal workers got a memo wednesday that they could not use the words resist or impeachment at work.

    1. I wonder whether government chemists might be forbidden to discuss how coatings could **resist** corrosion. Or history professors at (say) the USMA or Annapolis discussing Bill Cl;inton’s impeachment….

      1. Again, the ‘memo’ the adolescent FishWings is talking about consists of interpretive guidelines vis a vis the Hatch Act, which has been on the books since 1940. There is nothing new here.

    2. Or how that scumbag thief Rick Scott as Governor of Florida instructed state employees not to use climate change, global warming, etc. It’s in the realm of Trump’s fake news routine. Accuse those with whom you don’t agree of lying or prohibit them from telling the truth, if you can. And, they still get elected. WTF.

  2. “We previously discussed the courageous stand of my alma mater, University of Chicago, against the growing speech codes and “safe spaces” in campuses around the country. ”

    Why does it take courage to speak your own mind in America??? DEMOCRATS!

    Yes, Democrats, the former “thinking man’s party” will attack you if you disagree with them! They will dress up in masks, take up baseball bats, and try to shut you up! And you never hear Nancy Pelosi get on them about it! Or any Democratic Party higher ups in large numbers.

    If they don’t attack you physically, they will do everything possible to intimidate you.

    Sooo, why does anybody here still vote for Democrats???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Squeeky – I think they vote Democratic because they are part of the Borg. That is my theory and I am sticking with it.

  3. Again, Christopher Newport is a teaching institution, not a research institution. The appellation ‘university’ is indicative of the sort of ballyhoo state legislators are fond of. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s state institutions are hypertrophied, just not as egregiously so as West Virginia’s next door. They’re also sited perversely. In addition, either through state action or the actions of campus-based promoters, the distinct institutional personalities of each place have been lost. This is especially true of Virginia Tech. We do this better in New York.

    / rant off.

    1. Direct hit. None of this hullaballoo about nonsensical navel-gazing on oddball college campuses amounts to anything other than a queef from a fat girl. However, such ridiculousness does fire up the gullible rubes, dupes, klan wanabees, pocket-traitors and grifters on the make who coincidentally ball-bag the day glo bozo.

      in response to fish’s prescient observation

      1. Although I fully support Newport’s position and the other schools who have felt the need to announce a policy which is nothing more than common sense.

  4. I taught marketing part time for nearly a decade at CSU & filled in several times for political science courses…this was in the late 1980s and 90s and social scene was never as divided then as it is now NOR was there such a focus on being Political Correct. If that were the case, I would have had my ass chewed probably daily!

  5. Someday this will not be newsworthy. It can if we simply do not give social justice warriors, censoring leftists and politicians our attention when they demand we relinquish our free speech rights.

    1. Darren, I’m following the same process to receive email notifications of new comments that always worked before, but now I’m not receiving them. I am receiving emails of new posts, just not the new comments. I am logged into WordPress as well.

      Please let me know if you can assist, or not.

      Thank you

      1. I’d like to help Olly but unfortunately that is a WordPress specific issue so it’s beyond my control to check into why the system is not working like it was earlier for you. The only thing I can suggest is to uncheck all your subscriptions then reactivate them. Perhaps that could kick the system back into normalcy.

  6. Well, it’s a Virginia college and we still teach Virginia history. Which means we know who James Madison was and what he was all about. We know there are worse things than conflict and bad manners, like group think and tyranny of the majority.

    1. “With which I have long admired”? Isn’t it “that I have long admired”? Where is the University of Chicago Manual of Style when you need it?

      1. n. i. silver – I ritually burned my style manuals when I stopped teaching. 😉 It was a glorious bonfire to the vanities.

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