Reed College, a small liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, attracts students who want to speak their mind.But when Jeremiah True wouldn’t stop talking about his controversial opinions on sexual assault in his required freshman humanities course, his professor banned him from the discussion segment of the class for the remainder of the semester.The 19-year-old told BuzzFeed News that his professor, Pancho Savery, warned him repeatedly that his views made his classmates uncomfortable before he told him in a March 14 email that he was no longer welcome to participate in the “conference” section of his Humanities 110 lecture-seminar class.“Please know that this was a difficult decision for me to make and one that I have never made before; nevertheless, in light of the serious stress you have caused your classmates, I feel that I have no other choice,” Savery wrote in the email, obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Maude-Griffin says that True “began the class abruptly and loudly in an angry tone, reading the Honor Principle stating how no student should face a hostile environment, and demanding an apology of only female members of the class despite the equally strong reaction by the male ones.”
Savery is known for being an ardent defender of free speech, which makes his apparent decision to remove True from class all the more baffling….I was curious about the context of True’s remarks. While students should be able to speak up about controversial subjects, they aren’t allowed to hijack classroom conversations and steer them wildly off track. If True was rowdy, interrupted other students, or veered off topic, that would be another matter.Savery declined comment to BuzzFeed, but I was able to reach him via email. He confirmed that he was a “strong believer in the First Amendment,” and maintained that the student’s views were not the issue.“He was not banned because of what he said but because of a series of disruptive behaviors,” Savery told Reason.
True declined to be interviewed Thursday. When contacted via e-mail, he responded that he would only answer questions if the first word in the article was [n****]. Inside Higher Ed refused to make such a commitment, and he then declined to talk.
[A]ny time your actions supersede a defining national tenet such as free speech, you better be sure you are making the right call. Whatever the decision, critics will come out in force—with social media leading the way and making a trying situation even more challenging.