Professor promotes ideas to restore free speech on college campuses
Princeton University professor Robert P. George recently wrote an article calling for the restoration of free speech and academic freedom on college campuses.
George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.
He explained that the primary mission to pursue “truth and advancement of knowledge” is ‘rapidly declining’ in top academic institutions, but that a set of principles dubbed, ‘Chicago Trifecta,’ could restore that mission.
“Researchers whose findings challenge the narratives that have become dominant on campuses find it increasingly hard to get published, funded, hired or promoted,” George explains. “They, and teachers who question prevailing orthodoxies, are harassed in person and online, ostracized, subjected to opaque university disciplinary procedures, fired or ‘canceled’ by other means.”
But the ‘Chicago Trifecta’ adopts principles such as “institutional neutrality on political and social matters” and makes “academic achievement and promise the sole basis for hiring and promotion.”
George believes the blame for the decline of free speech and academic freedom falls on university leaders.
“[T]hey say, so long as nobody feels offended or excluded; free speech, so long as it does not challenge institutionally approved narratives and conceptions of social justice; free speech, but only within narrow credentialed boundaries,” he says of leaders.
The “Chicago Trifecta,” however, forces university leaders to recognize the importance of adopting a culture of free speech and academic freedom within academic institutions.
“Freedom comes with a culture of responsibility, but responsibilities are better enforced by social norms than by extensive rules enforced by bureaucrats,” he concludes.
Dr. Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He is involved in many areas of the academic free speech cause and has won countless awards including the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has given lectures at top universities around the world and has over 20 honorary degrees.
All parties mentioned have been contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.