Promoting Free Speech, Harvard Students' Club Braving Controversies [Video]By Khaleb Skye A. Cruz
Conor Healy, back when he was just a freshman at Harvard University, enrolled in a seminar class on free speech. Healy was from Toronto and he chose the said program because it seemed popular in the United States.
Healy recently told USA Today that he did learn a lot from his free speech class. Apparently, the students in the course tackled issues like the First Amendment, Holocaust, gender equality, and denialism. Now, Healy met Francisco Trujillo and created the first club dedicated to the freedom of speech at Harvard. The group is called the "Open Campus Initiative".
For the record, Healy became the president while Trujillo took the vice president position. The Open Campus Initiative actually had its first meeting last January. The club then grew with 35 members and six officers.
Unfortunately, not everyone became a fan. As a matter of fact, the club has been targeted by various protesters. Well, one of the reasons for the rallies is the move to invite controversial speakers like University of Toronto Psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson. Peterson is famous for refusing gender-neutral pronouns.
Per the same source, demonstrators swarmed Peterson's lecture holding signs that read "Fight Transphobia". Nevertheless, no one was harmed and the class finished peacefully. While freedom of speech is a good advocacy, Healy and his team recognize the fact that a lot of people would see them as people breaking the status quo. However, people need to feel more comfortable in challenging ideas and speaking up.
With that being said, the Open Campus Initiative will push through despite the protests. Healy added that it is time for students to not fear open conversations on campus. Next semester, the club plans to invite more speakers like the provocative author Charles Murray.
Unfortunately, the protests are not limited to Harvard students alone. As a matter of fact, according to Irish Times, Israeli ambassador Ze'ev Boker was scheduled for a talk in the Trinity University Dublin last February. It was later canceled when demonstrators blocked the door. Lastly, the talk of polemicist Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley ended in violent riots.