Professor to talk free speech and academic freedom at Iowa State


Courtesy of YouTube

Henry Reichman, professor of emeritus in history at California State University, East Bay, will give a lecture on free speech and academic freedom at Iowa State on Sept. 17.

Jake Webster

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Reichman formerly chaired the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The story has been updated to state Reichman is presently chair of the committee. The Daily regrets this error.

College campuses have become a battleground of words for columnists and activists in the free speech war in the United States.

Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, will discuss free speech and academic freedom at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.

Reichman released a new book this year on the subject titled, “The Future of Academic Freedom,” which will be for sale at his lecture Tuesday. He chairs the American Association of University Professors Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which has defended academic freedom for more than a century.

White nationalist Nick Fuentes visited Iowa State in March, generating discourse on how far free speech should go at Iowa State. Fuentes said at the time he was invited to Iowa State by Turning Point USA, which does not have an official student organization on campus.

Then a candidate for the position, and now-Student Government President Austin Graber said at the time he believes allowing the Student Government executive branch to decide which organizations can exist on campus would “create a very bad precedent.”

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens ‘cc-ed’ the provost of George Washington University on an email to Dave Karpf, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington who had referred to Stephens as a metaphor for “bedbugs” in a tweet earlier that day, Aug. 26.

Following extensive news coverage of the bedbug incident, Reichman made a blog post defending academic freedom, saying “[i]n conclusion, I think journalist Julia Ioffe gets it about right,” and embedded Ioffe’s tweet that said “If I had a dollar for every free-speech-on-campus, liberal-snowflake-safe-space-mocking crusader who melted on contact with an opinion contrary to their own, I would have so so many dollars.”

A study released in 2018 found 56 percent of American college students said protecting free speech and 52 percent said promoting a diverse and inclusive society are both extremely important to democracy; however, by a 53 to 46 percent margin they said diversity and inclusion was more important than free speech.