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tv   Discussion on Freedom of Expression on College Campuses  CSPAN  February 10, 2022 1:00pm-2:05pm EST

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speech and inclusiveness. the bipartisan policy center hosted this event.
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hello, i'm jacqueline pfeffer merrill, director of the bipartisan policy center. i'm glad to welcome you today about conversations about campus freedom of expression, a new roadmap. a report released today on campus free expression. colleges and universities have a special role to play in our democracy, teaching the values of civil agreement and mutual respect, preparing the next generation of leadership. the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression, if constrained, makes it harder for campuses to fulfill their academic and civic missions. today's report is a direct
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response to those challenges. the report is a strategic guide about fostering open exchange during this period of polarization and an uncivil tone in our national discourse. the task force, which approved this report unanimously, is comprised of a dozen members including a college graduate, civic leaders, former governors, college presidents, other academic leaders from a wide range of college campuses club liberal arts colleges, research universities, historically black colleges and universities, and faith-based institutions. the task force met frequently over the last year to discuss these issues and hear from college presidents, faculty, and students about solutions that have worked on their campuses. these are not cut and dry issues. these issues are about navigating principles and practices to sustain a diverse
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community of knowledge seekers such that every member of the community feels welcome to participate. just a few words about the bipartisan policy center and why we're working with campus leaders. the bipartisan policy center is a washington, dc think tank that strives to bring security and opportunity by combining the best opportunities from both parties for american families. we're the only organization registered in the district of columbia that has the name "bipartisan" in its name and that's a real challenge these days. that's why we're working with campus leaders to prepare the next generation, as we'll explain in this video, to be bipartisan leaders, able to forge constructive compromise across principled dispute. >> what do you do with an idea? you test it. you share it. you open it up to criticism. you refine it. and you implement it. right now, freedom of expression is losing ground on college
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campuses across the nation where students should be exposed to new ideas and taught to think independently. it's this freedom of sharing our ideas that helps us progress as a nation. that's why the bipartisan policy center is working with colleges and universities across the country to foster free expression. learn more about how to tackle these evolving issues at by >> our conversations will be moderated by johns hopkins university president ronald daniels. before i introduce president daniels, a few words about our run of show. president daniels will moderate two conversations. the first with a task force co-chair governor christine going war and governor jim douglas. he will then moderate a discussion with lori white, ross
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irwin, and daniel cullen, joined by taffye benson clayton. we'll leave 15 minutes for questions and answers. i encourage you and the audience to submit your comments at any point or your questions for the panelists on twitter or the chat function on youtube and facebook. now it's my pleasure to briefly introduce president ronald daniels. his complete bio as well as the other participants are available on our web page. president daniels is a scholar of law and economics. before becoming president of johns hopkins university in 2009 he was provost at the university of pennsylvania and dean of the faculty of law at the university of toronto. his book, released last month, examines the role higher institutions have in preserving
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the values of liberal democracy. we're delighted he's joining us today to moderate these conversations. president daniels, thank you very much and over to you. >> thank you so much, jackie, it's a real pleasure and a privilege to be here today. and really honored to be joined here today by the co-authors of the academic leaders task force on free expression. governor jim douglas and governor chris gregoire. chris gregoire, as you know, served two terms as governor of washington and chaired the national governors association. she is now ceo of challenge seattle, an alliance of ceos. governor jim douglas served four terms as governor of vermont and is now executive in residence at middlebury college, his alma mater. thank you, governors, for being here and chairing this task force and for the very important
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contribution you're making to our sector and to debate more generally in our country. with that said, a simple starting question. whatever possessed you to take on a relatively uncontroversial, seldom in the news issue like free expression on university campuses? who wants to start? i'm going to use the law professor's prerogative. governor douglas. >> thank you, president daniels, for being part of the presentation today. i know i speak for my colleague, governor gregoire, and thanks the members of the task force who gave of their time and expertise over the past year. i'm spending time on a college campus, as you indicated, so i see it up close and personal. and i've become concerned about what i see in the change on campuses during the past roughly half century. our local hero, calvin coolidge, among others, once said the purpose of a college education is to teach people not what to
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think but how to think. according to some recent polling data, the american people don't believe in substantial numbers that that's happening. polls suggest that only half of americans believe that colleges are teaching young people how to think independently. and there's a division politically there too, about 70% of democrats think that colleges are doing a good job. only 40% of republicans do. so young of a better organization than the bipartisan policy center through whom i've worked with my good friend chris gregoire on other projects over the past few years, to take this on and address that decline in public trust because the university is where the next generation of leaders is trained to participate in citizenship beyond the campus and that citizenship is going to require exposure to a lot of diverse points of view. and we need to ensure that
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they're at that point. >> governor gregoire. >> thank you, president daniels, for joining us today and my colleagues on the task force for a tremendous job and a great learning experience, to be perfectly honest with you. and to jackie and steve at bpc, thank you very much for your leadership. i'll tell you how i came to ask bpc to consider this issue. it stemmed from an incident that took place at the university of washington in seattle. it was january 2017. a student had invited a speaker by the name of milo to come speak. and the president of the university received petitions to overrule the students and not allow the speaker. she also received petitions to reinforce that the speaker
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should be allowed to attend. unfortunately it ended up in a very unfortunate incident in which an individual was shot. both the victim and the perpetrator were not students or faculty or campus members at all. but it did evolve out of the demonstration. the conclusion that was drawn by the community at large was that in the academic realm, this is evidence of a growing problem with regard to freedom of speech. and in fact the question that was asked is, does it pose a threat to the safety and security of college campuses. i thought that was a terrible conclusion to draw. and instead i felt the conclusion better to be drawn was, if we're threatening freedom of speech, then our college campuses and our whole country is being threatened. so, like jim, i took this to the bipartisan policy council and said, i'm concerned, because i
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watched the president at the university of washington stand alone with virtually no support once the incident took place, and being pummelled from every conceivable direction. that was january 2017. the protest was against the speaker and the incoming president. and it's only hardened and gotten more polarized since. so clearly that was not the beginning but evidence of a trend that was going to take us down a really troubling path. so bpc said let's gather together the best and the brightest in the country, let's see if we can help college presidents and do something about this for the very reasons jim just described. >> i want to pick up on this point that you just made about the high stakes that are at play here and in some sense the background shifts in american society that have occurred not just in the last several years but governor douglas, as you said, over the last several
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decades. the question i would ask of both of you is, to the extent that you're seeing increasingly a much more polarized country and increasingly a diverse array of viewpoints across campuses, that are hard to reconcile, i would really be interested, particularly given both of your bipartisan instincts, can you say something about how you bridge across these differences, and in particular i know that the report is very concerned with that issue, but i would be really interested in your lessons as governors who have had to navigate these divides. what can we as university presidents learn from you as to how we can do this better? >> you know, i would suggest two things. number one, university presidents don't have a choice but to lead on this issue and lead confidently and squarely.
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and number two, they cannot allow themselves to be left alone when a crisis or problem arises, that really they need to take the lead and set the culture and set the values on the college campus that allows that civil discourse to take place and encourages it and provides the students and the faculty with themselves as a role model about how that can best be done, to engage not just with the students and the faculty, but to engage with the trustees so they're there when an incident or a problem should arise, to engage with their very own backyard community and to engage with their legislators and their governor. at the end of the day, being president of a university can be a very locally job. it doesn't have to be, technically in a crisis. it demands there be those who stand up and be supportive. so engaging, listening, really listening, opening the doors to
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diverse thought, thinking, cultures, religions, all that have, is a role model that the presidents can play. i know it isn't easy, trust me, it isn't easy being governor. but it is accomplishable, even in these divided times. i firmly believe it's possible. but more importantly, i believe it's absolutely essential that we have leadership on our colleges' campuses, public, private, whatever they may be, that says here is our culture, this is how we're going to provide the kind of civil discourse and civic leadership for tomorrow in the country. >> thank you. >> that's exactly right, chris. presidents are going to have to spend some capital. it's going to require them getting involved in this on a personal basis. they need to ensure that the trustees, as you noted, have their backs so that when difficult circumstances arise, they have that support. i guess it starts with adopting policies. and we have some in our report to which presidents and other
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campus leaders can look for possible examples. but beyond that, it requires engagement. and not just when the crisis occurs. it requires ensuring that student organizations and other campus leaders know what they're going to do when that difficult circumstance arises. it requires a clear statement that there is no conflict between free expression and diversity, equity, and inclusion. sometimes people think there is. but we want to be sure there is total inclusion of everyone, including ideologically, on our college campuses. so those are very consistent goals. and finally, if there is a difference or a gap between the kinds of views that are expressed on a college campus, the president will have to fill that gap by ensuring that different voices are heard, whether it's invitations to speak on campus, whether it's diversity among the faculty, or
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whether it's students and their organizations to ensure that a variety of different views are heard. as chris indicated, it's too important to fail. this is the next generation of leaders. and we have to be sure that they have the tools necessary to go into their lives beyond the campus and lead our country forward. >> just before i turn it over to our next panel, this is unfortunately very compressed time that we have for today's discussion, but before we turn it over to the next panel, i really would appreciate just, you know, your talking a little bit from your perspective as governors of states where there are robust public institutions, to the extent that we're seeing an increasing trend towards polarization, also now in the context of public universities being manifest on boards of trustees, to say that presidents should make sure the trustees have their back, can you be
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confident that those tensions don't get replicated on the board of trustees, and in fact there's a risk that the trustees fail to transcend their own partisan differences in these moments? do we need to worry about that? >> yes, we should always worry. i've been a trustee of public institutions, the university of vermont, and state colleges. it was very ideologically diverse because we had legislators of both parties on the boards of trustees as well. but that's why it's so difficult and so important. i was a student a half century ago at middlebury college. i'm often asked what's different today. i say, more technology and better food. but beyond that, there's a different climate in terms of free expression. i was the head of the young republicans, and kind of an oddball in a northeastern liberal institution, but nobody
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ever suggested that i shouldn't be heard. and today people are suggesting that some voices not be heard. so everybody has to understand how important it is. as my friend bernie sanders once asked when a controversial speaker came to our campus, what are we afraid of? let him speak. so we have to adopt that attitude and recognize that the pursuit of knowledge means being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, even some that make us feel uncomfortable. i think if we keep that objective in mind, we can find a way to get there. >> and i agree with jim. you know, as i view it, having been the one to appoint trustees for our colleges and universities in washington state, they went through a pretty rigorous process with me. and i was always insistent, it's your job to have the back of your president. if your president isn't performing, well, then, replace the president. but when you have that president, have that president's back. the only way in which they will
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when it comes to the day-to-day operation is if there is a relationship between that president and those trustees, that they are as engaged in setting the tone and the culture as the president is. and then when the crisis happens, it's too late to begin to establish a relationship or a plan and so on. it has to be in place. and there are some really great examples of, you know, ideas that can be batted around in the report we're presenting today. and those ought to be the subject of trustee meetings, where they can engage, they can see the various viewpoints and difficulties associated with it. because at the end of the day, it's, again, very key that a president not be left standing alone during a crisis, but that he or she has gathered a support system from the president, trustees, to the faculty, students, to the governor.
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trustees are a key and essential component of that community of support that's essential to the success of making sure these presidents can produce the kind of civil discourse and civic leadership that we need in this country. >> thank you both. terrific interventions. now i would like to broaden our panel and to have three task force members who i'm going to introduce to you. first, daniel cullen as a professor of philosophy and director of the project for the study of liberal democracy at rhodes college, also a senior fellow for constitutional studies at the jack miller center for teaching america's constitutional principles and history. ross irwin was a founding member of bridge usa, a student led organization that champions dialogue and depolarization at his alma mater, the university of california berkeley. he's now c.o.o. of bridge usa, overseeing chapters at more than 40 campuses. lori white is president of
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depauw university. she has served on the board of directors for the national association of student personnel administrators foundation and the association for sustainability in higher education. she is smiling and happy because she is currently residing briefly in baltimore, so we understand that. and these task force members are, i'm happy to say, joined by taffye benson clayton, the inaugural vice president and associate provost for including and diversity at auburn university, also a member of the board of directors for the national association of diversity officers in higher education. before we get going, finally, a reminder that attendees can submit questions for any of our panelists today using the live chat on youtube or facebook, twitter using #bpclive. i would like to start by asking task force members to say a quick word about the workings of the task force.
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how did the task force arrive at its conclusions? and again, tracking the broad theme of this conversation and the work this task force has done. i would really be interested in knowing how, after a year of intense deliberations, where you found -- what was the one issue in which you found that your moves -- your views, rather, were changed by the intense interactions, the deliberations, the debate that you've had over the last year. so again, we believe that that kind of an interaction on our campuses is healthy in terms of being people together, shifting views. did it happen on the task force? so, not sure who wants to start. lori, daniel? >> i'll be happy to start. i wasn't a member of the president's club on the task force. but i often fantasized about being president for a day and solving the world's problems.
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you know, i was once told the best version of a committee's minutes is to simply say the committee mulled. and i think that's what the task force did for weeks and weeks. we mulled, which is to say we thought seriously and we thought deeply about problems we were all familiar with but nobody believed they had a handle on. i would say what i learned most was that -- it's a mistake, as we faculty tend to think, that the faculty are the university. dennis o'brien wrote a great book a few years ago called "all the essential half-truths about higher education." and each chapter was, so and so is the university. the administrators are the university, the students are the university, the faculty. and i learned a lot just in
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hearing what a presidential perspective really is like. and earlier this morning, lori white was saying that it's been crucial to her success as president so far that she had a background in student affairs. and so i think we brought different perspectives on what is working and not working on the campus, different perspectives on the needs of students, which was i think a particular -- a particular thing that i might have had a blind spot of. faculty tend to regard students as animals who are in their classroom and don't really exist for us outside. we think about them when they're in class, not so much out. and i learned a lot about
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getting a perspective on the other dimensions of student lives. >> daniel, you had me at you've become more sympathetic to presidents. so i heard the rest, but that's going to really -- that's the teaching i'm going to take from this. lori? >> i'll start by saying it was a real gift to be able to engage in dialogue with so many incredible colleagues, who, as dan mentioned, represented different perspectives at the university and on the issue of freedom of expression. and so to be able to gather on a regular basis for over a year, for us to talk about this really critically important issue, as jim and christine underscored, was really wonderful. and one of the places that we really wrestled, and jim talked about this, was about the really important foundational values of freedom of expression and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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and in going into the conversation, i don't know that everyone thought that that was going to be part of our really deep and robust conversation, which is how do we create environments that affirm the right of every member of our community to be, as i always say, their full, authentic selves, and be able to debate and to share and to criticize and at the same time have an affirming community where all members of our community, particularly those who have been historically marginalized, don't feel threatened by inviting speakers, as christine just articulated, who may not agree or who might even dehumanize how it is that they identify themselves. and so i think there were quite a few sessions where we wrestled with how do we effectively
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articulate this in our report, to not undermine either of these values and to be able to reinforce, for those who read our report, that we think they are both critically important and that they are intertwined. >> ross? >> i'm a bit sick today so i'm going to hope most of my coughing is while i'm muted. but thank you, president daniel, for having me and thanks to my colleagues on the task force, those present and not here today. i think professor cullen said it. i would like to amend the word "mull" though to be dialogue and participation. on this task force we were directly practicing these skills we're asking all of these universities to go out and practice themselves. it did take a while, and there were certainly times where we
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spent maybe half an hour on one paragraph. but i think because of that, we've put together something that is really robust and can help a lot of campuses throughout this country. what i learned a lot of was, again, the constraints on university admin. i think as a student organizer, it's easy to see administration as the rules and systems confining, you know, you and the students' ability to make change on campus. but i have a new appreciation for the amount of stakeholders and things to consider as far as university presidents and administrations go when approaching these issues. and i know it's made me a lot more sympathetic to rules and stickiness that i think that i would have thought previously could be easily run past or gone through. >> before going on to the next question to our two
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gubernatorial co-chairs, what was the issue where you found yourself being challenged and saw your views changed during the course of the committee's deliberations? >> we just heard lori speak about and that i mentioned earlier briefly, that is, the importance of ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion is consistent with the right of free expression. we want everybody to be included. ethnically, every kind of demographic, but ideologically as well. if we have that attitude, if we agree everyone is important and everyone's views need to be heard and valued, then we can address these two objectives, that some felt initially were in conflict. but we believe strongly are not. >> i would agree with both lori and jim on this one. it was a learning experience for
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me and in large part around this issue, because what i see happening in our country is the country overall is struggling with this very issue, and not doing a good job. and i fundamentally believe the answer to how we do a good job in dealing with free expression and diversity, inclusion, and equity, is really by marrying the two and understanding that they coexist and to make sure that the leadership for how we do that is really present on our colleges and universities, as a role model to the rest of the country that doesn't seem to be handling it well and to provide the generation of tomorrow who is prepared to do it and do it right. >> let me go to a question that maybe is a bit in the weeds here but i think it's an important point that's made in the report and i'm not sure who wants to take it on, so i'll throw it out, this is open forum as to who wants to respond to it, but you state in the report that
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there's overwhelming survey research and evidence that the intellectual climate on many college and university campuses is being constrained, that's directly from the report. now, this is in itself a question that is quite contested in the public sphere, especially given the over-reliance on anecdote and insinuation. can you say a bit more about what evidence you found most compelling that reinforced this finding? i'm not sure who wants to take that, but again, just given that characterization, is the foundation on which so much follows, it would be good to get a sense of how you got there. >> go ahead. >> no, you go ahead. >> i chatted with a university president not represented on our task force and i said, you know, you don't have much diversity of opinion on your faculty. and he said, well, that's not our objective, but let me explain how it happens, because new positions, when they're
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open, are filled by the existing faculty. and so it is a perpetuation of the views of those who are already there. and so i think one important consideration is that we need to have a diversity of views on college faculty and to some degree, at many institutions, that's not the case now. so that's one factor that's certainly affected my thinking. >> ron, i would say that the data reinforced what had been my observations over time. i've been in higher education for the last 40 years. and over the course of time, i have noticed this moving away from intellectualism on our college campuses, driven i think in large part by students and parents now looking at a college education as a means to employment and not necessarily as a means to spark one's
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intellect. also the data reinforced for me the data that talked about when students want to argue a point, it's about their lived experiences, it's about how they feel about something. it's not necessarily about the data in the research. and, you know, that compelled us to one of our really important recommendations, which is that we have to give students the tools to be able to engage in the kind of debate, in intellectual conversation, that we want to see happen on our college campuses. to imagine that we would take young people who have grown up primarily in homogenous environments, throw them into a college campus setting, and then expect for them to figure out how it is they're supposed to debate difference, i think is not -- i think what's important is that we need to be able to think about how we introduce these concepts to our students and then how we give them the
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actual tools to engage in the kind of intellectual conversation we would like to see happen on our college campuses. >> thank you. anyone else want to chime in on that? can i throw you a next question? >> president daniels, so i think one of the foremost sources that i look at is letter owe docks -- heterodox universities, 62% of students believed the campus climate was stopping people from expressing their true feelings. that was up 7% from 2019. so you can't draw a line with two points but if that trend continues in six years, you would have 100% of people saying that they were unwilling to speak their true views on
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campus. that is incredibly concerning. it should be over 50 or over 25%, students should feel comfortable expressing their beliefs. i talked to 44 chapter leaders across this country who are working on creating spaces for freedom of expression and viewpoint diversity and time after time, they say that students on those campuses feel refreshed by coming into a space where they're challenged by views and hear from different types of people and feel safe to express their own opinions. that makes the case for me that this is a big problem, and not only is it a big problem, it's getting worse year after year. >> that's also influenced by social media and the data that says that one of the reasons students are hesitant to speak up and speak out is because they're afraid that they're going to be socially ostracized by their peers on social media
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and faculty are also afraid as well that if they say something controversial or perceived as being controversial, that somebody has their video phone and is going to post that all over social media. so that also influences the data that ross just talked about, that is concerning to all of us. >> could i just build a bit on this discussion and ask you to just maybe probe a bit the paradox that, you know, that you describe in the report, that is, that our campuses in so many ways over the last several decades have become much more diverse in a number of different dimensions. we moved from all male campuses to seeing women on campus, then increasingly seeing waves of religious diversity, racial diversity, increasingly more and more institutions are becoming acutely aware of the performance
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of geographic and socioeconomic diversity. there is this paradox you describe, which is our campuses are more diverse than ever and yet we have this spirit of conformity that you see as being really important in shaping or at least limiting the scope for discourse. and again, do you put most of this at the feet of social media? how do we understand this paradox? >> ron, i suggest this, that there is a certain emphasis or a certain inflection, maybe, of the meaning of "inclusion" that can become a problem when one loses sight of the question, inclusion in what, precisely. and what i have in mind is a phenomenon that's been mentioned by lori and others already, that there's a sense among students,
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a lot of the time, that, you know, their role is to somehow represent their identity, that being included means that representative function. but i think what we're aiming at, ultimately, is joining together equally in an enterprise that transcends identity, where your demographic identity doesn't confer on you any privilege. i think what we were trying to articulate was that a culture of free expression and open inquiry is going to be inhibitive when students think that to challenge a fellow student's opinion or judgment about something is tantamount to disrespecting their identity. so i think what we're trying to say is that the reconciliation
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of inclusion and free speech principles rests on this acknowledgement that we have to remind ourselves all the time that what we're doing is including everybody in the common enterprise of knowledge seeking and knowledge production. and in that regard, there's a real sense in which you're checking your identity at the door of the classroom, that what we want to hear are your judgments, and they're neither qualified nor disqualified because of the particular identity that you happen to have. >> so i'm going to ask, just a random person who is not on the panel, for her reaction, albeit a random but expert expert, who
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is going to be charged with responding to, as we all will be, this report and trying to think about whether it's actionable and in fact can -- we can thread the needle in terms of balancing the need for vigorous commitment to free expression while simultaneously honoring our diversity and inclusion values. and so our random expert, we're really grateful, dr. benson clayton, that you're here today. could you talk about, first and foremost, what you see as noteworthy about this report for your campus, but also how, when it comes down to how to navigate difficult conversations, and let's put an obvious one on the table, think about the debates around the appropriateness, the role for affirmative action. this is an issue that is going to be played out in the halls of congress, it is being played out in our court system.
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and yet on campuses this is often a third rail issue when it's discussed. how do we -- how do we, based on what the panel has told us, how do we thread the needle here and make sure we can have good conversations here that ultimately are robust but nevertheless don't have the effect of undermining the sensitive belonging on the part of all the participants in the conversation? so, two questions. first, reaction. and then, the hard example. >> so the reaction to the report, which i'll think through and talk about quickly, while i'm not a member of the task force, i do feel rather connected to the effort by having participated in leading the way on free expression convening in 2019 to discuss an article that i co-authored in "the journal of dispute resolution" about a strategy for fostering free expression. so from my perspective, looking at the report in its totality
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and particularly the recommendations, the acknowledgement of the new influences on perceptions and discourse for our students once they reach our campuses was really helpful. it was important i think that we understand that the terrain for free expression and civil discourse has changed. it's more charged. additionally, from the experiences of gen z adolescents, there's difference in terms of in some cases growing up in homogenous environments and less exposure to diverse ways of thinking, being, and doing. there is an impact of social media that has already been interested, has been discussed, excuse me, and the perceived incompatible of dei and free expression when i'll speak to in a moment. i really do think outlining these realities and explaining their influence was important for understanding for campus
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leaders. i do think that this is a very helpful roadmap. i really liked -- this is going to sound really practical, but i liked the way the recommendations were constituency based. i think it will be very helpful for campuses and leaders to be able to apply and adapt these recommendations in ways that really meet the essence of their institutional mission and their culture. i'll also see i was, it won't surprise you, particularly pleased to see the recommendation, the first recommendation about leaders needing to expend leadership capital to support this, and also the third recommendation, which i liked so much, because i don't think these kinds of what i see at least, the principles of free speech and of diversity, equity, and inclusion,
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co-existing, has not been discussed, and sometimes not even broached, and certainly not with clarity and depth. and so i want to just quote this, if i can, and then i'll get to your second question. at a time when some doubt that commitments to free expression are compatible with commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, leaders should make the case that freedom is liberalizing and inclusive force. you all may know i'm quoting dr. white here. at the same time, university leaders must remember that students need to feel fully included in the campus community before they feel safe to confront ideas with which they disagree. and a free expression culture depends on trust and a respectful learning environment for all. so to your point of how we begin to engage these issues on our campus, where issues like affirmative action are
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considered third rail, i see them as integral to mission. i don't think that an academic institution today can not face straight ahead the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to include matters, as a former affirmative action officers, of affirmative action. you know, these are the kinds of necessary tools that we use to ensure that we get the kind of mix on our campuses, be it for students or for employees that make our learning environments excellent and in many cases make them electric, right? it's what feeds the intellectual curiosity that we seek and the ways that professor cullen has talked about. it's hard for me to separate them out. and i understand that people do. but this work is mission minded. it's mission centered. and it's absolutely integral to
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the mission of our institutions and really, the success of our students and our institutions longer term. >> before we move on, because there are questions that are coming in that really follow up on this issue between -- the tension between freedom of expression and a respectful learning environment and how we simultaneously honor these ideals, the way that dr. clayton just addressed. but are there others on the panel that want to address this? president white, for instance? >> dr. benson, i thought, benson clayton, well-said, and thank you for quoting me, and really you're quoting the reflections of all the members of the task
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force. in response to the first question that's been offered in the chat, i think they're related, and so a question is, how can college leaders address the tension between freedom of expression and a respectful learning environment if some expression marginalizes groups in the campus community. in our report, we underscore that this is not easy work. and that presidents, as has been said before, really have to use their pulpit and their capital to be able to convey why this is so important and model ways in which we might respond. so for example, on my campus most recently, we had a professor who used the "n" word, not directed toward an individual student, but in the bounds of a classroom conversation, quoting somebody else who used the "n" word in
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describing others. and students took offense. students asked me if i would ban that word on campus. and so i wrote to the campus community and said, no, i'm not banning the word. let me tell you why. and i went on to talk about, as an english major, there are books that i have read that use that word, that i certainly wouldn't want banned in a classroom. there are videos i was viewed that use that word which could also be used in classroom teaching and i certainly wouldn't want to have to intervene in a situation where somebody was playing rap music in their dorm room where that word was being used. and i also said, however, the word is abhorrent, i wouldn't use it, i wouldn't encourage others to use it, and there may be, however, situations in a classroom setting where that word might be assigned in a text, a movie, et cetera.
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so i think that's an example of ways in which we can convey that there are certain words, phrases, even speakers that we don't support, but that we defend the right of the campus to invite the speaker, of the professor to choose particular books and material, and why all of that is so important. >> so we have a question that has now come in that i'll leave this open to any member of the committee, but maybe ross might want to think about responding earlier, which is, how discussions with college students about campus free expression help shape your recommendations. >> well, i think a lot of the recommendations in the report are basically creating a campus that is more welcoming of freedom of expression, right? in my experience, and i conveyed
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this to [ inaudible ], students, they would like to be able to speak their views, they would like to feel like they're at home in the university and they're welcome to debate and discuss these ideas. but students have but we, you know, students have too feel like that is a welcome thing, so many of our recommendations in the report are talking about creating a more welcoming campus environment for that and to go back to what professor cullen said, you know, i'm bias but i think students are the university and the whole reason we're there is to educate students and if we're not educating students and not working with them, things are not going to be changing. the other thing i'd like to quickly harp on is that this is a culture issue, right, you can't mandate that people appreciate view point diversity, that's just not something that
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will work. what happens is this is a long process where you are looking for faculty and administrators and eventually students who support listening to other viewpoints and support the ideas of free expression so the campus culture as a whole can be welcoming to those ideas as well. >> other thoughts from any other members of the panel? >> yeah, i would add something to that. i saw a question in the chat that was addressed to how one might go about promoting viewpoint diversity in the classroom. of course, the first thing you have to do is build it in to your course, but i think more importantly, one just has to remind, and i think this is something that the report tries to do by using the expression "embracing viewpoint diversity," we have to remind ourselves that
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the biases that most reflect us in a knowledge-seeking community are the cognitive biases that we all come with, the tendency of individuals and communities to want to just, you know, stay within the comfort zone of their existing opinions. if it's going to be a knowledge community it's got to value skepticism, it's got to seek out controversy, invite argument, it's got to disrupt that cradle comfort that we all lapse into. and that's the great value of reading mill. i don't think john stewart mill is the solution to what ales campus culture, but, you know, there's this enduring arguments of mill's that reminds us of the
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tendency to lapse into orthodoxy, and unless that is actively disrupted, that is what we're going to tend to get because people, it's difficult to tolerate an idea or an opinion that upsets you but you can't be part of the knowledge-producing activity if you are going to immunize yourself or try to shield yourself from suffering that kind of provocation and indeed, again, you actually need to seek out the disagreement. that's the only way the knowledge business amounts to anything. >> other people, so somehow, if somebody has an idea that we
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vehemently disagree with, we disagree not only with the idea but think the person who offered that idea is horrible, awful and bad. so, you know, our challenge is also to figure out how we can really be an affirming community built on trust such that if dan and i have a really contentious argument, we can still leave the room and go out and have a by the to eat with one another and not say that we forever have to stand in the opposite corners of the university and not, are nowhere near that yet, but in order for us to have a spirit of freedom of expression on campus, we have to figure out a way to get to that place. >> go ahead, daniel, sorry. >> a friend of mine had a motto that i think is a good one. when you're in a heated debate with someone, you know, you argue, i don't think you're
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evil, i merely think you're mistaken. and give your reason. and as lori says, separate the reason from the person. that's the fundamental principle against ad homonym arguments, but we've lost the practice of that, i think, on campus, too often. >> a question now from john wilson. should colleges create programs dedicated to the study of free expression in order to have an institutional commitment to freedom. do we need a center, do we need a specific program initiative around this issue, in order to meet the aspirations that you have dictated in your report? >> i'm not sure that we need a center, but one of the things that we've done at auburn as the result of an extremist speaker
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we had was launch a critical conversation series where we invited viewpoint diversity experts, professors west, george, professor sue, ross, and invited to be part of a pilot he was doing on open minds so we have partnered with the academy through our inclusion of diversity and this platform is designed to be -- you all know, depolarize communities and really affect mutual understanding. we have now, 250 students who have gone through that experience and it has been, i think, an impact point for our campus. so some of it is taking advantage of the tools that are available out there now and engaging them on campuses. >> so we're almost at an end,
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but i do want to just return back to the two co-chairs and i'm incredibly sympathetic to the arguments that you're making, then very thoughtfully and cogently set out in the report, but is there any part of you that worries that some of the reaction might be yeah, we've heard the argument, we're not persuaded. that is to say, i think for a lot of us, the concern here is we haven't done a good job of making the argument for free speech and the important foundational role it plays in a democracy but i can well imagine there will be some people even after they hear the argument will say i'm just not convinced. i think he got the balance wrong in terms of how you're thinking about the individual rights, the dignity to be free from insult, they'll say, you know, united states kind of absolutist when
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it comes to first amendment protection, other countries like my home country, canada, criminalizes group hatred, expression of group hatred, is there any party that fears maybe the argument won't have purchase to a certain generation? that they're not buying the argument? sorry to leave on a sombre note but i think it's an important question to ask. >> first of all, anyone with that point of view, i continue to respect and will continue to go out and have a by the to eat with him or her but we have a civil skills deficit in this country and we got to find a solution. if it's not this, then what? otherwise, we're going to continue to have disruption, rancor, the kind of polarization that leads us to want to find a solution. i mean we had one episode on our campus where a professor was injured in a melee that followed the shouting down of a speaker.
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we got to find a path forward and whether it's a separate center or some other approach, we have to elevate the skills of citizenship to have an objective of higher education. so i think if we agree on the goal, ron, we can figure out what the best path is to achieve it, but i hope we can agree we need a more civil society, more civil discourse and an opportunity for people to express themselves and seek knowledge in a community that respects everyone's point of view. >> i agree. you know, democracy is kind of difficult, to say the least. and freedom of expression, i happen to be a lawyer and freedom of expression has been an issue for the u.s. supreme court on how many different occasions? it's still evolving. it's still growing. it's still maturing. and now, it's really being challenged by diversity equity and inclusion.
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and rather than say to someone okay, we just fundamentally disagree and i'm done with you, that's not the answer. if continued to include that individual, continue to grow, continue to mature, and understand fundamentally, democracy, while challenging, is the best in the world. freedom expression is the foundation of success in this country, and on our colleges and universities, and if we, as a country, want a better tomorrow, then it lies fundamentally with our youth and there we can create, those who understand, those who can provide civil leadership, those who can ensure respect is live and well, who can disagree without being disagreeable, that to me is the future, that's colleges and universities, that's why i'm so appreciative of your moderating today, all the folks on the task force, all those who work on the task force who did contribute
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and to the bipartisan policy counsel in particularly to jacky and steve, this is the beginning of a new day for civic responsibility and leadership in this country and i hope university presidents all across the country will see it's their charge, their leadership and their responsibility to make sure we achieve democracy that's better tomorrow than it is today. >> thank you, so much, jacky, over to you. >> thank you so much, and just a hardy thank you to ronald dan daniels, daniel cullen for your insights today, and thank you to our audience for joining us. the academic leaders task force is available for download on our website, bipartisan and in the weeks, months ahead, task force members will be sharing findings at a variety of forums including planetary
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sessions at the upcoming halls conference, the lutheran education conference north america meetings and advancing usa college chapters across the country and events and engagements with college presidents who have served in elected office, including college president and former u.s. representative stephanie sandlin and belvue college president and interim gary locke, also at south by south west edu. report is available on our website, and can reach the task force writing to our email dress. all of us at the bipartisan policy center are wishing those of you on college campuses the very best for the upcoming spring 2022 semester. we know it's been a very challenging 20 months and wish
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you all the best to return to a more normal academic setting. thanks very much again to our audience and all of you for joining us today, best wishes for the holidays. thank you, and good day. >> c-span is c-span's online store, browse through the latest collection of products, apparel, books, home decor and accessories. there's something for every c-span fan and every purchase helps support our nonprofit operations. shop now, or anytime, at c-span >> at least six presidents recorded conversations while in office. hear many of those conversations on c-span's new podcast, "presidential recordings". >> season one focuses on the presidency of linden johnson, you'll hear about the 1964 civil rights act, presidential
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campaign, gulf of tonkin incident, and war in vietnam, not everyone knew they were being recorded. >> certainly johnson's secretaries knew because they were tasked with transcribing many of those conversations in fact they were the ones who made sure the conversations were taped as johnson would signal to them through an open door between his office and theirs. >> you'll also hear some blunt talk. >> jim. >> yes, sir. >> i want the report of the number of people assigned to kennedy on the day he died and the number assigned to me now and if mine are not less, i want them less right quick. if i can't ever go to the bathroom, i won't go, i won't go anywhere, just stay right behind these black gates. >> presidential recordings, find it on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your pod caches.


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