Promoting a Campus Culture of Policy Debates
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The fact is that, despite the hallowed traditions of academic freedom and freedom of inquiry, many campuses are hostile to genuine conversation and debate. Freedom of expression is viewed by a vocal minority as a ploy to preserve privilege. There is a fear of even listening to those with whom one disagrees. Campuses are viewed as “safe” only if they are ideologically pure.1
Incidents of disinvitation and disruption of speakers on some campuses have been well-publicized,2 but another, more pervasive threat to political discourse has remained less visible. Campuses rarely plan events where students hear diverse policy perspectives.
A team of graduate students and I have just completed research on the topics and participants in on-campus debates or forums with divergent viewpoints in twenty-four policy areas. We based our findings, which are discussed in The Decline of Freedom of Speech and Policy Debates on Campus...