A Response to the Legutko Visit from the Political Science Student Advisory Committee

By POLITICAL SCIENCE STUDENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

In light of events of the recent weeks concerning on-campus speakers, the Political Science Student Advisory Committee believes it is appropriate to contribute our views to the ongoing conversation.

We are disappointed that both the Ryszard Legutko lecture and the planned protest in response did not occur. We believe that academic freedom and freedom of speech should be preeminent values at academic institutions, particularly in a college with views as diverse as this one. We support the right of students to attend any talks or lectures they choose, just as we support the right of students to peacefully protest.

We recognize that some individuals and groups are angry and frustrated by the department’s sponsorship of this event. However, we emphatically support the right of Political Science professors to bring in speakers who offer valuable ideas and perspectives, regardless of the controversial nature of some viewpoints. In particular, we stand behind Professor Callanan’s decision to invite Professor Legutko to campus, Professor Bleich’s decision to provide departmental co-sponsorship of the event, Professor Dickinson’s decision to include Professor Legutko in his class (at the request of his seminar students), and the decision to bring Professor Legutko back to Middlebury next fall.We believe the current method of departmental sponsorship should be maintained.

We believe that it recognizes the diverse thoughts and opinions of all our professors and their expertise in their areas of study. Middlebury is first and foremost an academic institution with a responsibility to expose its students to a wide variety of views while still maintaining a free and safe environment. We think that the current method of sponsorship is capable of meeting both of these criteria.

Going forward, we hope to see a clear statement of intent from the Administration on this subject. It is disappointing to see so many students’ and professors’ voices go unheard. It is equally frustrating that so many comments to the Administration, public and private, have not been acknowledged. The lack of response is concerning and portends the end of constructive and open dialogues on this campus. As it is our belief that academic freedom and freedom of speech constitute the foundation of liberal arts education, we urge that the Administration publicly embrace these values and take the necessary steps to demonstrate a willingness to stand by them.

Sincerely,

The Political Science Student Advisory Committee:

Charlie Cacciatore ’20
Kyle Loveland ’20
Akhila Roy Chowdhury ’20
Owen Powers ’20
Ethan Cohen ’19
Abbott LaPrade ’21

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