When Free Speech Disrupts Diversity Initiatives: What We Value and What We Do Not

By Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt

Abstract:

In this essay, I argue that the debate on free speech as pushed by the conservative right is a strategic apparatus to undermine the various diversity initiatives on college and university campuses. While supporters of the right wing extremists around the globe have pushed for various modes of exclusions (social, racial, ethnic, cultural, religious and sexual), here in the United States, such exclusions are most evident in the collapse of academic freedom and the rise of civility codes as students and educators use the platform of free speech to promote various forms of injustices and exclusions. Our neoliberal college and universities and their administrators, I argue, are caught in this precarious and tenuous conflict of protecting academic freedom against the pressures from the outside (the political right) to stage ideas and ideologies that are harmful for the public good in the name of “free speech.”

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