Defending free speech at NKU

Defending free speech at NKU

Last week, an English professor at Northern Kentucky University decided she was offended by a display of crosses put up by a pro-life group to commemorate aborted children so she took her class and led them in destroying the display.

At most colleges that would be the end of it. Free speech exists only for liberal speech in most places, especially if your speech offends liberal sensitivities. But the administration of the university did take action.

A reader sends an email to the campus from Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba, regarding the incident in which a professor destroyed a pro-life cross exhibit. Whole thing’s below the fold (click “read more” to read it) but here’s an excerpt:

It has been heartening that student and faculty groups that do not necessarily support the position of Northern Kentucky Right to Life have come out strongly in support of the organization’s right to be heard through their display. This reflects a commitment to the importance of free speech and inquiry as a hallmark of our University.

Professor Jacobsen has been removed from her remaining classes and placed on leave from the University. She will retire from the University at the end of this semester. The Faculty Senate, representing more than 1,000 NKU faculty members, has taken strong action today that affirms the importance of free expression as a defining quality of the University. Our campus has spoken with a strong and unified voice.

That’s good on the university’s part, but I’m left wondering if Jacobsen did what she did knowing that she was leaving at the end of the semester anyway. In any case, at least the university has made a symbolic statement.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli