For Georgetown and talk

Added: Sherene Walters - Date: 02.01.2022 15:40 - Views: 25676 - Clicks: 6974

Georgetown University has a long and checkered history of violating its own robust promises of free speech and other rights. If, indeed, it made the right call, or any call at all. Which it… probably did? You be the judge. Political Systems class. As the Georgetown Hoya student newspaper reported , on April 15,. Swers did not censor the racial epithet when reading the quote off a PowerPoint slide presented to the class.

The incident has since sparked a formal bias complaint to the university and a classwide letter from students to Swers. While a quote from Swers later in the story reveals that this quote came from a U. Ohio is actually a really important Supreme Court decision. So what did Georgetown do in the matter of Professor Swers? It appears that it did the right thing, but in the least helpful way possible. Even if you are not a free speech nerd, if you are a news watcher at all, this may ring a bell.

Oh yeah, that Supreme Court case. Is this case relevant and appropriate material for a U. Political Systems class, then? Most certainly. Swers did not use the epithet on a student. She did not endorse its use. She simply read it aloud in class, without censoring it, just as the Supreme Court wrote it. This did not satisfy some of her students. Request 1 was quickly fulfilled, with Swers ing an apology to her class on April 18 and apologizing at the next class session as well.

FIRE does not get involved when students simply complain to a university, even when that complaint asks, as this one did, that a fellow student or professor be censored. Students have the right to file such complaints, regardless of their merit. However, once the university launches an investigation, that changes things.

From the letter:. The N-word was never acknowledged as blatantly racist or harmful to students. Following this inadequate response, you continued the class without pause. People can and do have differing opinions on the appropriateness of presenting, uttering, or even simply asing or referring to material containing racial slurs in class all of this is assuming that it is pedagogically relevant. Some see a strong difference between the use and mention of the terms. Others prefer to use euphemisms or asterisks when racial slurs are present, though even this is no guarantee that students will not be offended.

A respect for faculty free speech and academic freedom, however, requires that this determination be left up to individual faculty members. More importantly, while students are free to demand it, the right to speak on any topic or to utter any word cannot be made dependent on the skin color of the speaker, or on the condition that the speaker be compelled to apologize for or condemn its use. This is an elementary and fundamental application of the principle of equal justice under law.

The uproar over the class and threatening talk of an investigation will surely chill speech and academic freedom for any other professors who might otherwise utter forbidden words or ideas. Regardless of merit, however, Georgetown had said it would investigate the formal bias complaint. DeGioia on May 4, informing him of the issue, outlining the academic freedom concerns and asking for a response the following week. We have yet to receive one, despite an entire month having passed. As our policies make clear, Georgetown respects and supports the academic freedom rights of our faculty.

There are several options, and none of them are what you would hope for from a major university. Second, Georgetown might not have started the investigation as of May 4. However, there has been no word of one since, and what would it have been waiting for? If true, one has to wonder if Georgetown is this cavalier about meritorious complaints of actual discrimination.

While students are free to demand it, the right to speak on any topic or to utter any word cannot be made dependent on the skin color of the speaker, or on the condition that the speaker be compelled to apologize for or condemn its use. That would be disgraceful on a of levels.

If this is so, it means Georgetown has managed to get as much mileage out of the negative effects to free speech and academic freedom from this incident as possible while secretly making the right choice. The uproar over the class and threatening talk of an investigation will surely chill speech and academic freedom for any other professors who might otherwise utter forbidden words or ideas, and all without actually punishing a professor in a way that will galvanize her academic freedom claims and perhaps provide her with legal claims as well.

Conversely, imagine the beneficial effects on the campus climate that could have resulted had Georgetown publicly and unapologetically declared that it would not punish Professor Swers and reiterated that her teaching was a protected exercise of academic freedom.

Not only would it bolster a climate of real debate, dialogue, and academic inquiry among Georgetown faculty, the resulting discussion would have led to a great deal of education and thinking about the topic for everyone on campus. So the question remains: What did Georgetown actually do here, and why? The answer, whatever it proves to be, will tell us a lot about the climate of academic freedom at Georgetown β€” and about the motivations of its leadership.

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