This week, a group of professors at Wellesley College authored a letter arguing that “offensive” guest speakers cause harm to students and therefore shouldn’t be welcome on campus.
Professors at Wellesley College, an all-female institution in Massachusetts, which has seen both Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright pass through its gates, published a letter over concerns that speakers they consider offensive cause students harm.
In response to an event featuring feminist intellectual Laura Kipnis, six Wellesley professors published a letter, arguing that speakers that they allege threaten student safety shouldn’t be welcome on campus.
“There is no doubt that the speakers in question impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley,” they wrote.
How exactly does Kipnis impose on the liberty of those in the Wellesley community? According to the professors, Kipnis’ critiques of contemporary feminism could prove “painful to significant portions of the Wellesley community.”
The committee of professors recommended that those inviting speakers to Wellesley in the future should “consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups.”
The committee adds that they would like to serve as a counselor to students who are unsure if their desired guest speaker would be safe for the Wellesley community, arguing that they would be “happy to serve as a sounding board when hosts are considering inviting controversial speakers, to help sponsors think through the various implications of extending an invitation.”
They finishing by arguing that “standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley.”
The professors accuse the students responsible for Kipnis’ invitation of inflicting harm upon members of purportedly disempowered groups in the Wellesley community, arguing that they “could certainly anticipate that these ideas would be painful to significant portions of the Wellesley community.”
In response to the email, Kipnis condemned the professors: “I find it absurd that six faculty members at Wellesley can call themselves defenders of free speech and also conflate my recent talk with bullying the disempowered,” Kipnis told the Foundation for Individual Rights for Education (FIRE) in an email. “What actually happened was that there was a lively back and forth after I spoke. The students were smart and articulate, including those who disagreed with me.”
“I’m going to go further and say — as someone who’s been teaching for a long time, and wants to see my students able to function in the world post-graduation — that protecting students from the ‘distress’ of someone’s ideas isn’t education, it’s a $67,000 babysitting bill,” she finished.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about education and social justice for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org