“I want a university that is a ‘safe place’ for the free exchange of ideas, for debate, discussion and the search for truth,” said TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76) during remarks at the Washington Examiner’s free speech forum on Dec. 1. Ream participated in the forum as a panelist along with the Examiner’s Red Alert Politics Editor Lauren Cooley, syndicated radio host Dennis Prager of Prager University and Chandler Thornton of the College Republican National Committee.
We created a space where students could come together and grapple with ideas. They can debate, they can discuss, they can argue.” – TFAS President Roger Ream
During the discussion, Ream talked about the current struggle on college campuses, the importance of teaching young people an appreciation for the rights and benefits of free speech and how TFAS programs are working to ensure these ideas are passed on to the next generation.
Ream noted that TFAS was founded 50 years ago precisely for the reasons we are seeing on college campuses today. In 1967, there was widespread unrest and violence on college campuses and TFAS founders worried that young people were not learning America’s founding principles or hearing a balanced perspective on economics and political systems. “We created a space where students could come together and grapple with ideas,” said Ream. “They can debate, they can discuss, they can argue.”
Ream talked about how that mission has become even more relevant in recent years. “We noticed an increasing trend of students who weren’t used to being confronted with ideas they might not agree with. They were made to feel ‘uncomfortable’ in our program when they were challenged with these ideas.” That’s why TFAS took steps this summer to establish a “Free Speech and Toleration Series” for students. Response to the series was overwhelmingly positive with students awarding it an overall rating of 4.5 on a 1-5 points scale, with 5 being excellent.
“The new wrinkle on the whole movement against free speech is this feeling that we have a right to not be offended,” said Ream. “We very strongly emphasize in our programs that being made uncomfortable is part of the learning process in life, and that’s what should happen at a university.”