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Advocacy group: Tufts one of worst colleges for free speech

The university’s respect for student freedoms comes under attack

Published: Friday, February 11, 2011

Updated: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:02

Free speech

Aalok Kanani / Tufts Daily

The Primary Source in the academic year 2006-7 printed two controversial articles which the university later said amounted to harassment. In response, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has named Tufts one of the worst colleges for free speech and student rights.

"People at Tufts are very often hesitant to say certain things because of the degree of political correctness that students have to maintain and for fear of repercussions," Wallis said. "I think especially as different topics are debated — especially contentious topics of diversity and class and different cultures at Tufts — certain people feel that they can't say what they want to say."

Wallis stood firm, however, in denouncing FIRE's assertions.

"I don't agree with their methodology, and I don't think they're in any position to make a determination about free speech at Tufts," he said. "I will say flat out that I don't agree with that article. I don't think FIRE knows enough about every school to compare every school to each other on that list."

Reitman asserted that freedom of speech at Tufts is nowhere near in danger.

"I haven't seen many students be afraid to express almost anything, and it's to our face, and it's bold, and I don't think there's much intimidation going on at Tufts," he said. "We're not restricting any political thought about community politics or values."

Addressing offensive speech — not stifling it — is the best way to promote healthy communication on campus, Reitman said.

"There's a lot of healthy dialogue going on here, and there's some unhealthy dialogue going on here, but I think that's all part of being a learning community, and not everything is always going to feel good," he said. "But I think having to address the hurts is a critical piece of our values and who we are."

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