Linn-Benton Community College is in elite company when it comes to upholding the principles of free speech and civil discussion of controversial ideas.
An article in the June edition of Reason Magazine lists the Albany college, along with the University of Chicago, Arizona State and seven other schools across the country as a place “where you don’t have to walk on eggshells.”
The authors are Debra Mashek and Jonathan Haidt of the Heterodox Academy, which they describe as “an organization of more than 2,500 professors who believe that viewpoint diversity and freedom of inquiry are essential components of a good academic culture.”
Writing in the magazine (circulation about 50,000) of the libertarian Freedom Foundation, they highlight 10 colleges that “stand out from the crowd” for their efforts. “These are schools — large and small, public and private — where evidence suggests that students will have better odds of developing the habits of heart and mind necessary to thrive in a world of complexity, nuance, and difference.”
Besides LBCC, the University of Chicago and Arizona State, the authors list Chapman University and Claremont McKenna College in California, Kansas State, Kenyon College in Ohio, Purdue University in Indiana, St. John’s College in Maryland and New Mexico, and the University of Virginia in Richmond.
I asked LBCC’s president, Greg Hamann, for some background and expressed surprise that our little community college made such an illustrious list.
“Thanks for your note and for your compliments,” he emailed back.”The only thing is that I wish it were not a surprise to you, as we have been working on this for quite a while now.
“I think the big boost came when we had the rather controversial art exhibit on campus a couple of years ago (covered in both the LBCC Commuter and Albany DH). Out of that came a strong affirmation of academic freedom and free speech from our board, a significant revision of our associated polices and rules (that were vetted by national organizations like FIRE) and a student movement and eventual club named the Civil Discourse Club, which recently received national recognition by the Heterodox Academy as the Outstanding Student Group of the Year.”
The Civil Discourse Club has a Facebook page. It lists four elements of etiquette: No partisan attacks, no self-promotion, substantiate claims, and no personal attacks.
Look it up. Then try to follow those rules. (hh)