Commentary: There Is No Room for ‘Privileging Feelings’ in the Marketplace of Ideas

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In 2015, the University of Chicago issued a statement, referred to as the “Chicago Statement,” in response to “recent events nationwide that have tested institutional commitments to free and open discourse.”  Through the statement, the University reaffirmed its steadfast commitment to free speech and expression, including its “overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation among all members of the University’s community.”  

The statement emphasized that:

“[E]ducation should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.”  

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Arizona Universities to Follow Federal Order for Workers to be Vaccinated

Workers at the University of Arizona must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

That’s the news from university President Robert Robbins in response to President Joe Biden’s order that any public or private organization that benefits from federal tax dollars must install a vaccination mandate.

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Merit System Is Unjust Because It Rewards Productive Individuals, Professors Argue

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Professors from the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs are arguing that “success and merit” are “barriers” to the equity agenda. 

“Admitting that the normative definitions of success and merit are in and of themselves barriers to achieving the goals of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion is necessary but not sufficient to create change,” professors Beth Mitchneck and Jessi L. Smith recently wrote for Inside Higher Education.

Mitchneck and Smith attributed those definitions to a “narrow definition of merit limited to a neoliberal view of the university.” Specifically, they express concern that universities receive funding and recognition based on the individual performances of professors’ own work such as peer reviewed journals and studies. 

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Arizona Universities Mandate Masks, Setting Up Showdown with Governor’s Office

In direct defiance of legislation banning vaccine passports and mask mandates, three major Arizona universities will require masks for students, setting up a showdown between the schools and the state government.

“All three Arizona universities said Wednesday they are going to require face masks on campus in certain situations, regardless of new state legislation apparently designed to preclude them from doing that,” Tuscon.com reported. “And more than half the Republican state legislators are asking Gov. Doug Ducey to withhold funds from schools who they say are violating a different ban on mask mandates and take the errant districts to court.”

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CDC Awarded University of Arizona $15 Million to Study Vaccine Effectiveness in Children

University of Arizona

The CDC awarded the University of Arizona (UA) $15 million to study COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and immunity in children and underserved communities. Children as young as 4 months to minors as old as 17 years will be eligible for study of the emergency use authorization vaccine. The announcement didn’t specify who qualified as an “underserved community.” The grant was awarded specifically to the Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essential Workers Surveillance (AZ HEROES) study, originally designed with a focus on frontline workers such as firefighters. 

AZ Heroes lead official and associate dean for research and professor at Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Jeff Burgess, asserted that this research would offer a better understanding of how effective COVID-19 vaccines are in youth.

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