By now, the letter that the University of Chicago sent to all incoming First Years (Freshmen) has gone viral. Outlets from Drudge Report to Barstool Sports to Facebook’s Trending Topics have covered it. To the best of my knowledge, this site was the first one to break this story.
I am pleased to report on a breaking new update to this story: Jay Ellison, the Dean of Students in The College, notified a student, who told me that all incoming students will receive a version of this letter, as well as a copy of Academic Freedom in the Modern University.
The full text of the email that Dean Ellison sent to this student is:
Thank you for writing, I really appreciated hearing from you.
When you return for the Autumn you, and all other returning students, will receive a modified form of this letter, as well as a copy of Dean Boyer’s short monograph on this subject. And we hope to have a lot of conversations about this topic.
All the best,
Campus administrators have also emailed me confirming that there will be plenty of discussion about this letter when students return to campus for the school year. In my conversations with administrators towards the end of last school year, the possibilities of having sessions in Orientation Week where UChicago’s history of supporting free speech is presented were mentioned. I am not yet aware if any plans to include these sessions are in place. However, I am confident from my interactions with administrators that an omission of these sessions would be for logistical and not nefarious purposes. The programming for Orientation Week tends to be set weeks in advance. However, if ever there were a reason to amend it with short notice, this would be it.
Thank you to everyone who read and shared my previous article on the subject! I think that every university should be asked if it supports the letter that UChicago just sent out, and if they plan on sending a similar letter to their own incoming freshmen down the road.