MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin has become the latest university system to officially affirm the right to free speech and academic freedom for all students amid concerns that academia is trying to protect students from being offended by classroom lectures and discussions.
The system’s Board of Regents voted 16 to 2 on Friday to adopt a resolution stating that the university should not shield people from ideas or opinions they find unwelcome or offensive.
“These are not just pretty words we are going to put in a brass plaque,” said a regent, José Delgado. “You’ve got to be able to listen hard, even if it hurts.”
Civil rights advocates are concerned that universities are trying to limit free speech to protect students from feeling offended. Civil liberties supporters have also raised concerns over the use of “trigger warnings” to alert students about uncomfortable course content. On some campuses, groups have demonstrated against or canceled appearances by contentious speakers.