Second free speech forum draws 0 students

Dean of Students Jerry Price had high hopes for part two of his Forum for Free Expression and Inclusion Oct. 18, however, no students showed up to his 5:30 p.m. event in the Student Union.

“Maybe for something like this to really bring in the critical mass, we need to discuss it and we have to have a really favorable date and time — but it just wasn’t available to us,” Price said. “But it could be that (students) are just over it. They’ve had their say and heard what they wanted to hear and moved on. We just don’t know until we try it again.”

On Sept. 14, Price held the first Forum for Free Expression and Inclusion, where he and about 25 students debated where the line should be drawn between harassment and free speech. Part two of this discussion was scheduled for Oct. 18. When no students attended, Price was forced to cancel the event.

The advertisement for the forum listed three questions Price hoped to address. They involved topics like the difference between free speech and punishable harassment and what students thought was an appropriate punishment if an incident was deemed harassment. Price also hoped to discuss the possibility of alternative punishment methods to students rather that suspension or expulsion.

No students attended Dean of Students Jerry Price’s second Forum of Free Expression and Inclusion, which brought 25 students a few weeks earlier at its first event. Photo by Rebeccah Glaser

No students attended Dean of Students Jerry Price’s second Forum of Free Expression and Inclusion, which brought 25 students a few weeks earlier at its first event. Photo by Rebeccah Glaser

“If somebody comes from a home environment that has a certain value structure and then you come here and convey that, because that’s what you have been told to believe your entire life, and then you find out that that’s not accepted here and now you’re out of school or something,” Price said. “Is there more logic to say, ‘No, our job is to have students take the risk, make a mistake, have some opportunity to learn from their mistake and go out and improve?’ I would advocate that that principle applies to free expression.”

Despite the lack of attendees, Price hopes the forum will lead to a more consistent and permanent discussion of free expression at Chapman. Price believes that an important role of the university that has not been fulfilled is to teach students the importance of free speech and expression.

“Just like it’s important for universities to do programming about diversity and inclusion all the time, not just during special months, not just when there’s incidences on campus — we want to have that kind of programming in the fabric of who we are as a university,” Price said. “I would like to see us move to do the same thing about free expression.”

There is no official date for the next forum, but Price plans to schedule the event after the Nov. 8 presidential election and hopes that the events of the election may encourage students to attend the next forum.

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