This page features selected speeches and other communications from the President and Dean of the Faculty on the subject of free expression and academic freedom.
President Hiram E. Chodosh on Freedom of Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Effective Dialogue, Fall 2018
During his Orientation Welcome Remarks to the Class of 2021 on August 20, 2017, President Chodosh spoke to our common purpose. He said, “The resolution of our most complex, wicked problems, and the pursuit of our most exciting, transformative opportunities all depend on one core capability: our ability to learn, and to put that learning to work. The power and creativity in our minds. The compassion and social warmth in our communities. The courage and humility in our leadership. For example, when we look at the sad and tragic events of Charlottesville, we condemn racism and anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds as outrageous attacks on our shared values, attacks on the intrinsic value of each and every one of us. We respect our constitutional freedoms of expression and association. And we reject violence and mourn the senseless loss of life.”
On July 17, 2017, CMC issued the statement Claremont McKenna College completes Student Conduct Process on April 6 blockade, which concluded that “[t]he blockade breached institutional values of freedom of expression and assembly.” The statement continued: “Our Athenaeum must continue to invite the broadest array of speakers on the most pressing issues of the day. Our faculty must help us understand how to mitigate the forces that divide our society. Our students must master the skills of respectful dialogue across all barriers. Our community must protect the right to learn from others, especially those with whom we strongly disagree. And Claremont McKenna College must take every step necessary to uphold these vital commitments.”
In a letter to the CMC community on April 7, 2017, President Chodosh reinforced CMC’s commitment to the freedom and diversity of expression by saying, “the breach of our freedoms to listen to views that challenge us and to engage in dialogue about matters of controversy is a serious, ongoing concern we must address effectively. Accordingly, we will be developing new strategies for how best to protect open, safe access to our events.”
In his August 2016 convocation address, President Chodosh said, “If we are to cherish free speech, we must support and hear the speech with which we most disagree. The most persuasive arguments anticipate opposing viewpoints. Free expression without listening is of little use.”
As the CMC community prepared to leave for the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday, President Chodosh wrote: “we must maintain our unqualified commitment to academic freedom, free speech, and critical inquiry. Any incursion of these principles undermines our mission, and it is my obligation to ensure that we strengthen our mechanisms for the protection of these commitments in practice. We have fully reinforced the principle of free speech (even when we were in sharp disagreement), advised the community on the need for civility, respect, and open inquiry, and reaffirmed in the strongest terms our commitment to academic freedom.”
In a November 2015 letter to the CMC faculty, Dean Uvin reinforced freedom of speech at CMC, writing: “[y]our capability and willingness to teach courses on difficult subjects is what a CMC education consists of, what all our students need, and we will support you in every possible way to do so. I want to be absolutely clear: we remain entirely committed to the bedrock principle of our college, of all higher education, and indeed of this society, namely the protection of free speech.”