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Monday, November 1, 2021 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
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Dr. Kara Dillard
James Madison University ICAD


2021 College National Week of Deliberation | Free Speech and the Inclusive Campus

Please join us for the Fall 2021 National Week of Deliberation online deliberative forum using Common Ground for Action (CGA) on Monday November 1, 2021 at 7:00pm EST/4:00pm PST on “Free Speech and the Inclusive Campus: How Should We Foster the Campus Community We Want?”

The College National Week of Deliberation CGA college forum series connects college students from across the country to discuss and make choices together about today's most pressing, wicked issues. As more campuses become ideological bubbles, this initiative hopes to give students a space to talk across geographic and ideological divides to see what common ground we have to act on wicked issues.

Overiew of Free Speech and the Inclusive Campus

The United States is becoming increasingly diverse and more polarized as we struggle to address complex public problems such as immigration, health care, economic inequality, and America’s role in the world (Pew Research Center, 2017). As public trust in our political system waivers, U.S. college campuses are grappling with issues of inclusion, diversity, and freedom of speech (Rainie, Keeter, & Perrin, 2019). Conversations about free speech on campus are often framed in opposition to diversity and inclusion and have spawned controversies, protests, and even violence. In 2017, a much-cited survey of more than 3,000 college students conducted by Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation presented diversity and inclusion as directly opposite free speech, asking students which issues they felt were more important; 53% chose inclusion and 46% chose free speech. In today’s contentious and divided political environment, what should colleges and universities do to meet the roles and responsibilities of higher education to foster the campus community we want?

In our 90 minute deliberative discussion, we will discuss three options to act:

OPTION 1: Prioritize Student Safety and Wellbeing. This option asserts campuses are responsible first and foremost for protecting student safety and wellbeing. Campus personnel have a duty to protect students and staff from harassment and discrimination and from the impact of harmful speech.

OPTION 2: Affirm the Educational Value of Intellectual Curiosity and Engaging with Ideas Across Difference. This option says the primary role of higher education is to stimulate intellectual curiosity and build capacity to engage meaninfully across differnce. This kind of learning requires discomfort, which we should embrace, even when uncomfortable.

OPTION 3: Uphold the Ideals of Free Speech. This option asserts institutions should welcome free speech in all its forms, as the university was created to be a marketplace of ideas. Campuses should welcome debate and provide spaces for diverse views and ideas - even when they are thought to be controversial and/or offensive.

Check out the issue guide here for more information: