IOP Statement on Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

May 27, 2014

By Institute of Politics

Free expression is a fundamental value of the University of Chicago, based on the belief that knowledge grows out of the analysis and competition of ideas. The University seeks the broadest diversity possible of ideas, experiences and perspectives, and seeks to create a climate in which all members of our community are free to express their ideas, which are all judged on their merit. In our mission to inspire a passion in politics and public service, the IOP too seeks to create a space that is welcoming and respectful to people of all backgrounds, communities, and political viewpoints.

The IOP has not endorsed the viewpoints or statements of any of the more than 250 guests we already have brought to campus from across the political spectrum. By definition, views will be expressed on occasion with which some will strongly disagree or even find deeply offensive. But we cannot remain true to our mission and be in the business of filtering guests or policing their statements to ensure they will always meet with broad agreement and approval and will not offend.

Last week at a Fellows seminar, a guest used language that provoked a spirited debate. The speaker was discussing how hurtful words can be re-purposed and used to empower; at no point did he direct any slurs at anyone. We acknowledge that some students found the discussion personally offensive and applaud them for strongly challenging the speaker, which was absolutely appropriate. To exclude or sanction him would not have been.

As part of our continuing efforts to provide a welcoming, respectful space to a diverse array of people, we have arranged both an end-of-year town hall and online survey for students, and our Student Executive Board has established a Diversity & Campus Community Relations Committee. We look forward to working with the entire University community to continue to fulfill our mission.

Check out more PRESS