On November 2, UChicago President Paul Alivisatos released a university-wide statement reminding students and staff of the Chicago Principles.
The full statement can be read here.
Alivisatos assured the UChicago community that “during times marked by intense disagreement, when individuals in our community are experiencing profound grief and struggle . . . your voice is protected.” However, he also specifically reminded students that “we have policies and processes for guiding community norms, reporting instances that require investigation, and disciplinary action when needed.”
Recent, disruptive pro-Palestine protests on campus led the university to use those policies en masse for the first time in a while, arresting several students and staff for trespassing. He also mentioned that “no member of our community may shout down or seek to prevent the protected expression of those with whom they disagree. You may not tear down a poster.” Pro-abortion students and faculty have torn down pro-life posters recently, as the Thinker has reported.
Dorian Abbot, a professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences and staunch defender of academic freedom, believed that the issued statement’s reference to tearing down posters specifically was pointed towards the pro-life posters incident. “I read it as a reference to the pro-life display,” he told the Thinker. “If you think a poster should be removed, it’s best to report it rather than tear it down yourself.”
Like all elite universities, UChicago faces potential tension between student protestors and wealthy donors. The president of the University of Pennsylvania recently resigned over this, as mega-donors pulled hundreds of millions of dollars over her congressional testimony about student-led Palestine protests. Decades ago, similar tensions at UChicago over communism and the civil rights movement led to the original formation of its culture of academic freedom.