The University of Minnesota has embraced free speech as its “paramount value” following a visit by Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos and professor Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute.
In a 7-2 vote, senior members of the University of Minnesota’s faculty voted in support of the motion, which states that a public university must be “absolutely committed to protecting free speech, both for constitutional and academic reasons,” and, “Free speech includes protection for speech that some find offensive, uncivil, or even hateful.”
Writing in the Washington Post, Professor Dale Carpenter, who sits on the Minnesota faculty committee that approved the motion, linked it directly to the visit of Yiannopoulos and Sommers, in addition to a number of other free speech controversies on campus:
The move comes after several recent campus controversies over free speech–including two incidents where protestors attempted to shout down guest speakers (see here and here) and the investigation and recommended public censure of faculty members by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action for using an image of Mohammed from the cover ofCharlie Hebdo magazine. Ironically, the image was used to promote a panel discussion on free speech and censorship after the terrorist massacre of the magazine’s writers and editors.
This is the second time members of a university faculty or administration have acted in favour of free speech following a Yiannopoulos visit to campus. Following the Breitbart Tech editor’s visit to Rutgers, the president of that university released a statement firmly backing free speech and the right to air offensive views.
Yiannopoulos tour of US campuses has been marked by hysterical protests by students. At the University of Minnesota, they blasted air horns at Yiannopoulos and Sommers, while at Rutgers they smeared red paint on their faces, the walls, and the floors while chanting “Black Lives Matter.”
Offended students typically retreat to “safe spaces” and therapy sessions after visits by Yiannopoulos. This has happened on no less than three occasions: at the universities of Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Michigan. The decision of the University of Minnesota’s faculty is another sign that administrators and professors are souring on student crybully activism.
The text of the University of Minnesota faculty’s statement in support of free speech on campus can be read in full at The Washington Post.