While we at the Record believe Venker’s views are wrong, offensive and unacceptable, it is difficult to determine whether or not there would have been enough educational value in her lecture to justify an appearance, given that her presence on campus would have hurt students who face sexist and homophobic stereotypes.
Though Venker’s speech is legally protected, the College, as a private institution, has its own set of rules about what discourse is acceptable. In general, the College should not allow speech that challenges fundamental human rights and devalues people based on identity markers, like being a woman. Much of what Venker has said online, in her books and in interviews falls into this category. While free speech is important and there are problems with deeming speech unacceptable, students must not be unduly exposed to harmful stereotypes in order to live and learn here without suffering emotional injury. It is possible that some speech is too harmful to invite to campus. The College should be a safe space for students, a place where people respect others’ identities. Venker’s appearance would have been an invasion of that space. . . .
The potential value and harm of inviting Venker to speak are difficult to quantify. Weighing the two against each other is an even more complicated calculus, and we at the Record could not come to a unified consensus on this calculation. It is important that Uncomfortable Learning pushes the envelope of campus discourse, but they must consider the potential damage of introducing harmful thoughts into the safe space that is so vital to the College’s ability to nurture and educate.