As an institution of higher education, free and open debate in a public forum is part of our DNA. The forum that higher education provides to raise difficult and contentious questions of public concern in civil debate is a tradition going back centuries.
At TCC, we have the privilege of welcoming students from all walks of life to our campus each year where they enter a learning environment that purposefully exposes them to new ideas, challenges their preconceived notions and expands their perspective. This allows them to grow both intellectually and personally. We aren’t just granting degrees and credentials, we are preparing our students to be citizens.
That’s why I support a continued emphasis on freedom of speech at colleges and universities from our local, state and federal leaders, and why I am writing to Governor Ron DeSantis today to express my appreciation of his support on this issue.
It is critically important that we continue to “provide a learning environment where divergent ideas, opinions and philosophies, new and old, can be rigorously debated and critically evaluated.” This process develops in our students the intellectual skills necessary to respectfully argue through civil discourse.
Free expression is embedded in the fabric of our curriculum, but TCC also has in place both a Freedom of Expression policy and policy on Civility and Mutual Respect to protect our forum for open debate, and our student code of conduct, which every student must read and adhere to, includes a Freedom of Expression statement. I will also be taking this opportunity to reiterate our commitment with our College leadership at Leadership Forum next week.
Freedoms, even self-evident freedoms, must be renewed and recommitted to continuously. It is critical that we safeguard free and open debate so that we can continue to develop the talented and curious minds that will ensure our society’s prosperity.