A group of academics at Harvard University have banded together to advocate for free speech. Real free speech where professors do not get disinvited, sanctioned, harassed, shamed, threatened or boycotted for unpopular work. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen at college?
The group is called the Council on Academic Freedom. One of the more recognizable founding members is psychologist and author Steven Pinker.
In The Boston Globe, the group admits that “not all is well for more vulnerable colleagues and students. Harvard ranks 170th out of 203 colleges in FIRE’s Free Speech Rankings…. More than half of our students say they are uncomfortable expressing views on controversial issues in class.”
According to FIRE, “more Harvard professors — 23 in total — have faced sanction attempts for their constitutionally protected speech since 2000 than at any other institution in the country. Of these sanction attempts, 18 have come from the left and five from the right. Moreover, Harvard has successfully sanctioned more scholars — 12 in total — than any other school.”
Meaning this group faces an uphill battle if they want to start at ground zero for speech censorship. In addition to advocating for diverse discourse, the group will also sponsor workshops, lectures and courses on the topic of free speech. Because somehow modern society has left this value behind.