UNITED KINGDOM

I'm a lecturer, and I don't feel I can speak freely

As lecturers, we’re supposed to teach our students how to examine arguments critically. How can we do this when we’re accused of bias and stifling free speech? writes an ‘anonymous academic’ for The Guardian.

Last week, a student of mine asked for my political views. They wanted to know what I thought about the decision by the University College Dublin students’ union to impeach their president after she withdrew information about abortion services from a university magazine, spawning a national debate on freedom of speech. I am not without personal opinions on these issues: I am pro-choice. Yet I felt I could not speak freely with my student about this.

For me, university is not a place where I can speak my mind. It is a place where I teach facts, present evidence and introduce a diverse range of other people’s attitudes. I seldom, if ever, make my personal opinions known, fearing accusations of bias and – ironically – of stifling free speech. It’s dehumanising to feel that I cannot be honest with my students. At the same time, I worry that I do them a disservice by failing to engage them in debates that might challenge their (or indeed my own) opinions.
Full report on The Guardian site