The Wall Street Journal article by Douglas Belking “Colleges Pledge Support for Discourse” was a refreshing read. Schools are waking up finally to the realism that free speech should be encouraged from all sides to ensure students are prepared for the world at large.
As the former Director of Workforce Diversity for Johns Hopkins Hospital, I applaud my former college colleagues at Johns Hopkins University for their support both verbally and financially for discourse. Uncivil disruptive shouting down of others has to stop. One major way to do this is through the efforts of schools who understand that viewpoint diversity is central to their mission.
Daniel Diemeter, Provost of the University of Chicago, has it absolutely right when he says “we believe that the best education we can provide students to prepare for the world is to hear diverse points of view even if they feel uncomfortable.” This reasonable sentiment is far removed from “safe spaces” and is a step in powering down disrupters who have not even heard and opposing position because of being provided safe spaces. Dialogue and listening to understand is the key for discovering common ground.
Now if we can drive this down to all school systems where teachers are allowed to speak, teach, and model civil behavior while not having uncivil behavior launched against them. Programs like the one being led by Johns Hopkins University should be supported and encouraged. I know I will!