Summary: An immigration debate at the University of Chicago Law School was canceled this week.
On Monday, the University of Chicago Law called off an immigration debate held by a conservative group. Although the event was controversial, the cancellation was still a surprise based on the school’s reputation as a pillar of free speech.
But the event hosted by The Edmund Burke Society was nixed because the group believed that it would get out of hand, according to Inside Higher Ed. The debate was not canceled because of any interference from the law school. Instead, the decision belonged entirely to the group.
Inside Higher Ed wrote that the University of Chicago is known to protect free speech, and they host speakers from the left and the right.
“The University of Chicago prides itself on protecting free speech, even offensive speech, and has gone on record repeatedly as saying that controversies should not block events from taking place,” Inside Higher Ed stated. “The university has boasted that it educates students to hear out diverse views rather than shouting them down. Most recently, the university has stood by a faculty member who invited Steve Bannon, formerly a top aide in the Trump administration and the executive chairman of Breitbart, to appear on campus — even though many students and faculty members are protesting the invitation.”
The Edmund Burke Society made the decision to be outrageous in their promotional materials, and they stated that immigration made America “a porcelain receptacle for other nations’ wretched refuse,” among other offensive statements.
The debate was supposed to be between those who favored and opposed immigration, and the materials also wrote arguments in favor of immigration in the same tone as above. However, the opposition quotes outraged many students, who demanded the law school to shut down the event.
Before The Edmund Burke Society canceled the debate, they released a statement that their comments were intended to spark discourse, but students continued to condemn the upcoming event. One student, David Raban, even wrote a letter to the Dean, Thomas J. Miles, and asked why the school funded the conservative group.
According to Inside Higher Ed, The Edmund Burke Society did not issue an explanation of why they canceled the debate, but Chicago Law stated that students and faculty were free to organize events that did not violate university policies.
“Any recognized student group, faculty group, university department or individual faculty member is free to organize event programming so long as it does not violate university policies. This event has been planned by a student group at the Law School; such groups have discretion over the content and timing of their events,” the University of Chicago Law said. “The university does not assess events that faculty or students organize based on agreement or disagreement with their perspectives. Faculty and students at the university host an extremely wide diversity of events, reflecting the diverse interests in the university community.”
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