By Rebecca Brant
Events on and off campus during the 2006–07 academic year spurred discussion about diversity and social justice and led to passionate debate about freedom of expression and limitations on that freedom. In a letter March 8 to the campus community, Pelton wrote, “There is no official position to be taken except to promote — rather than squelch — the deliciously bewildering dialectic we commonly refer to as the ‘teachable moment.’”
Such moments have been varied and plentiful, including the formation of a Council on Social Justice and Diversity; Salman Rushdie’s opening convocation speech last September; a campuswide forum hosted by Pelton in March; curricular offerings including those of the American Ethnic Studies program; awareness training and mentoring through programming in residence life, student life and human resources; an increased focus on the Lausanne program to bring faculty of color to campus; and an ongoing series of speakers and films.
Pelton invited faculty, staff and students to write essays, and the Dean’s Council solicited and selected 12 for publication in Campus Conversations: The Role of Freedom of Expression in a Multicultural and Democratic Society.
The book launch, March 7, featured Richard Meeker, Pulitzer Prize– winning publisher of Willamette Week, who cited the “transformative effect of educational institutions” in the debate over freedom of expression, and praised college students and other young people for “getting it when it comes to questions of race, multiculturalism and freedom of expression.”
The essay series will continue each year, Pelton says, explaining that “future editions will establish a historical record of the compelling vision of what we could be if we were truly open to what Matthew Arnold called ‘the best of what has been known and said in the world.’” The next series of essays, based on the question “Who is my neighbor?” will explore the relationship between the individual self and community — considered locally, nationally, globally — and what duties and rights apply in that relationship.
Following are excerpts from essays in the first collection.
assistant professor of law, Clinical Law Program director
When Free Expression Gets Expensive: Legalities, Liabilities and Realities
Nathaniel “Nacho” Cordova,
assistant professor of rhetoric and media studies
Between Freedom of Speech and Cultural Diversity of Expression: Bureaucratizing the Multicultural Imagination
associate professor of politics
“To try things themselves”: Freedom of Expression in a Democratic Multicultural Polity
interim director of community service learning, TIUA
Listening as Letting Go of Comfort and Embracing Difference: Responsibilities of the Listener in Freedom of Expression
Joseph Kaczmarek ’07
The Difference Between Can and Should: Protection and Exercise of Free Speech in a Democracy
professor of exercise science
The Lion, the Scarecrow and the Looking-glass, Darkly: Misadventures in the War of the Worldviews
Christopher Hanson ’08
Speech that Offends: The Treatment of Transgressive Expression and Hate Speech in the United States
Shannon Lawless ’07
Great Liberty, Greater Responsibility: Free Expression at Willamette University
communications director and project coordinator for International Debate Education Association (IDEA) at Willamette University
Expression and Identity: Collected Voices on “Freeing Space”
Douglas R. McGaughey,
professor of religious studies
Freedom of Expression
assistant professor of English
“Forgive me if I am forthright,” or Conversational Freedom
interlibrary loan and electronic reserves, Hatfield Library Censor This Essay