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Letters to the Editor for Monday, April 15

Letters to the Editor for Monday, April 15

Your Voice

Union’s president promotes censorship

Union College President David Harris responded to President Trump’s executive order regarding free speech on college campuses. 

President Harris opposes free speech on college campuses. This assertion creates an atmosphere for censorship. He wants “something more than free speech” which he calls “constructive engagement.” 

He states four conditions must be met for constructive engagement. One, the goal of speaking must be understanding; two, a speaker must respond to sincere

audience questions; three, the speaker’s responses must be respectful; and four, speakers must support their views with reasoned arguments.

Mr. Harris omits the most important condition, the rules the audience must follow. What assurances will Union give speakers that audiences will behave respectfully? 

Contrast Mr. Harris’ dogmatic approach to that of the University of Chicago, also a private institution. There, free speech means what we believe it means. You can’t defame someone; you can’t violate the law; you can’t interfere with the functioning of the University.  The university can regulate the time, place and manner of speaking, “But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression.” These “Chicago Principles” have been adopted by 60 colleges and universities. 

If Union does its job as described by its president, that students are taught how and why to think and not what to think, then Union students should treat speakers with dignity, thus making his four conditions unnecessary. Clearly, “constructive engagement” is a euphemism for censorship.

Richard Evans
Burnt Hills


Spend tax money to teach kids values

The April 3 news about Shaun Wiggins’ decision to be a candidate for the Saratoga school board is interesting.
The focus on an armed educational campus, similar to youth detention centers, advocates spending money on armed personnel instead of the Board of Regents’ policy to teach youth how to peacefully relate socially and emotionally with each other’s differences. 
The news indicated Mr. Wiggins suggested an outsourcing tactic to shift responsibility of armed personnel to a “peacekeeper authority not under civilian authority.” 
Even though Mr. Wiggins’ educational model may advocate the Christian Brothers Academy and LaSalle Institute system that outsources its military discipline system, to my knowledge, the military personnel are not armed.
The 2018-19 State Education’s Supportive Schools Grant (SSG) Program awarded only $2 million to build healthy, supportive, and safe learning environments for youth and start a Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center. 
The way to reduce incidences of bullying, harassment, and discrimination is with a sound educational program teaching youth the social and emotional values and non-violence behaviors that will ensure their future communities.
Michael McGlynn

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