The University of Chicago’s recent decision to not condone “safe spaces” on campus earned a round of applause from First Amendment advocates. “Free speech is at risk at the very institution where it should be assured: the university,” University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer said. But as the University of Chicago has made substantial strides toward freedom of speech on campus, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has opted to narrow the scope of what can be discussed in the classroom.
Last week, three professors co-teaching a course titled “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age” released a statement that addressed students who question man-made climate change. “We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course,” the professors said in a statement obtained by The College Fix. And if you disagree? The professors “respectfully ask that you do not take this course.”
One wonders: If the professors are positive that man-made climate change is occurring exactly in the manner they suggest, then why are they worried about a few students questioning their narrative? Universities are supposed to be places where students can improve themselves and others by debating openly. How does suppressing contradictory views aid that?
University Communications Director Tom Hutton backed the professors’ decision to limit students rather than to encourage free inquiry. “By clearly stating the class focus,” Hutton told The College Fix, “the faculty are allowing students to choose if they wish to enroll in the course or seek an alternative.” On the face of it, this sounds reasonable. And yet, if Hutton’s rationale were to be taken seriously, no student would ever enroll in a course that taught beliefs contrary to his own.
Perhaps that’s the idea?