University of Illinois to create free-speech task force
Updated 2:12 pm, Thursday, October 12, 2017
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois is appointing a task force to develop policies to avoid issues with disruptions while maintaining free speech and a welcoming environment, as several colleges across the U.S. deal with protests interrupting political speakers.
The News-Gazette reported that Interim Provost John Wilkin said the task force isn't in reaction to any recent event. He said his office has been exploring how to deal with "challenging conversations."
"It's the entire climate that we're dealing with, what we see happening throughout the United States," Wilkin said. "We have wanted not to be caught unaware by this."
Wilkin said he hopes to appoint the task force in the next month. The group will include faculty, administrators and students.
"Part of education is being uncomfortable. I think we want to make sure this is not about excluding that kind of discomfort but how we engage the university."
He said the goal for the task force is protect free speech while also engaging with divisive issues.
Chancellor Robert Jones said it's important to think about policies, but stressed that real conversations about the divisive issues involved are also important. He said he hopes to have a series of "critical conversations" to bring people with different viewpoints and perspectives together to talk about topics like free speech, immigration and diversity.
"We may not always agree, but we can find a different way of dialoguing and reacting to controversies," Jones said.
Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com