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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues


Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Five: Is Higher Education Stifling Free Expression in an Era of Political Correctness?


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Part Five:  Is Higher Education Stifling Free Expression in an Era of Political Correctness?

In “Free Expression at Public Colleges and Universities: Why Students Should Care About It and Why Campus Officials Should Make Sure It Is Protected,” Dennis E. Gregory contends that public higher education should maintain a “free marketplace of ideas”—as much as is legally permissible and regardless of trends toward political correctness and campus speech codes. While sympathetic to the good intentions of the latter movement, he presents an array of court decisions to sustain his argument. In his view, First Amendment rights are more fundamental than efforts to establish “safe spaces.” Gregory calls for students to become more aware of judicial history on these important matters and for academic leaders to be more diligent in performing their Constitutional duties to defend free expression.

In “Free Expression and Political Correctness: Contextualizing the Controversies and Finding a Way Forward,” R. Scott Mattingly, J. Bennett Durham, and Matthew R. Shupp claim that free speech requires that our society and college campuses become more adept at insuring dialogue among persons of different cultural and ideological groups. Instead of reducing venues for free expression, they argue that creating a larger stage for communication of multiple perspectives would strengthen both civic and academic discourse. The authors stress the need to “humanize politics” in the often hyperactive world of technology, social media, and morally offensive hate groups. For the writers, the resolution lies in...

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