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Three Lessons: Oregon campuses need intellectual freedom: Guest opinion

Across the country, intellectual freedom and free speech on college campuses have increasingly come under partisan attack. With free speech being pushed into so-called free speech zones and invited speakers facing hostility and shutdown when visiting campuses, the free exchange of ideas isn’t so free any longer.

A recent opinion piece from Bruce Gilley, a professor at Portland State University, highlighted some of these challenges at campuses across Oregon and explained how the PROSPER Act will uphold and protect student freedoms to encourage the free exchange of ideas.

Here are three lessons from the article:

1. Faculty, students, and administrators at Portland State recently prevented former Google engineer James Damor from speaking on campus on the grounds that they didn’t agree with some of his positions. “Hecklers vetoes” continue to pose a very real threat to intellectual freedom and diversity of thought across college campuses.
The [ PROSPER Act ] requires universities and colleges to disclose any free speech policies and creates a new ombudsman for student free speech complaints.

2. “Diversity” offices, which were originally intended to prohibit discrimination, have evolved into organizations that espouse a particular set of orthodoxies and wield prosecutorial power over student groups that don’t fall into line. In essence, diversity offices have become a vehicle to silence students who question the status quo.
[ PROSPER ] prevents universities from banning student groups whose aims do not conform with college orthodoxies.

3. According to Gilley, faculties in Oregon have become increasingly radicalized, Oregon State even going as far as to require that students complete a social justice course in order to graduate. In the classroom, faculty members present students with a singular viewpoint and then stifle dissenting ideas of students who dare to share a difference of opinion, perpetuating the cycle of restricted speech.
[ The PROSPER Act ] would increase transparency and debate about intellectual freedom on campus. 



By Bruce Gilley — July 8, 2018

The draft overhaul of the federal Higher Education Act soon to come for a vote before the U.S. House of Representatives contains several provisions to protect and enhance intellectual freedom on college campuses. While most of the debate on the proposed legislation has centered on student aid, the intellectual freedom provisions are sorely needed, especially in Oregon.

To keep reading, click here.

To learn more about the PROSPER Act, click here.                                             

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