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University of Wisconsin president promises new focus on free speech, civil dialogue

The new free speech classes for the University of Wisconsin’s subsequent freshman class won’t simply be about talking your thoughts.

UW President Jay Rothman instructed regents throughout assembly in Milwaukee he’s planning a new curriculum for new college students about each side of the suitable to freedom of speech.

“This fall, all incoming freshmen students will learn more about freedom of expression and about the rights and responsibilities associated with the First Amendment,” Rothman stated. “This provides the foundation for any subsequent discussion and debate on a number of possibly contentious topics.”

UW President Jay Rothman
UW President Jay Rothman is planning a new curriculum for new college students about each side of the suitable to freedom of speech. wisconsin.edu

Rothman stated the UW must reevaluate what free speech on campus means, notably after the pro-Palestinian protests that performed out at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

Rothman has been clear the college helps the suitable to protest on campus. But he’s been equally clear the UW can’t, and won’t sooner or later, enable anybody to interrupt the regulation or silence different college students.

“Over the last month or so, a number of our campuses have had demonstrations in reaction to the ongoing situation in the Middle East,” Rothman defined. “Through this the Universities of Wisconsin remain committed to upholding free speech rights, while simultaneously upholding the law, and our mission to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our students.”

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting the Israel-Hamas war
“This fall, all incoming freshmen students will learn more about freedom of expression and about the rights and responsibilities associated with the First Amendment,” Rothman stated. Getty Images
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting the Israel-Hamas war
UW has to reevaluate what free speech on campus means, notably after the pro-Palestinian protests that performed out at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. Getty Images

Rothman stated there’s a notion that free speech rights on campus are one way or the other beneath assault. He pointed to Republican lawmakers who’ve pushed for harder free speech legal guidelines for years on the UW.

But Rothman stated it’s not speech that’s having bother on campus. It’s listening to different folks’s speech.

“Within the Universities of Wisconsin I believe the rights of our students to express themselves freely is not the primary issue. Rather I believe the real challenge is ensuring the presence of civil dialogue,” Rothman added. “By this, I mean the simple act of respectfully sharing ideas and opinions and listening to others.”

Rothman didn’t say simply what the new free speech curriculum will entail.

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