Davenport Addresses APLU Council of Presidents about Campus Free Speech

Chancellor Beverly Davenport was invited to participate in a panel assembled by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington, DC, on Tuesday to discuss free speech and student activism on college campuses.

Chancellor Beverly Davenport

Chancellor Beverly Davenport

She was joined on the panel by Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia.

Colleges and universities nationwide, including the panelists’ institutions, are facing a variety of free speech issues.

In February, Berkeley canceled a speech by then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos after protests involving community members resulted in considerable injuries to students and damage to the campus from vandalism and a fire. Berkeley officials were later accused of suppressing free speech.

“I was proud to present the bipartisan work of our legislature—work that has been touted as the best we have in the country on this issue,” Davenport said. “At least six to seven other states have passed some form of legislation on this topic.”

In May, a comprehensive campus free speech bill was signed into law in Tennessee. 

“I applaud their work,” she noted.

Davenport said the new law reaffirms free speech on our campuses and ensures all viewpoints are protected speech.

“The bill also recognizes faculty’s academic freedom to teach and research but also stipulates that they should not insert their personal views in the classroom or introduce controversial matters that have no relationship to the subject being taught,” she said.