One of the many ironies or paradoxes of life in academia is that freedom of speech never is more complex than when it is discussed by people who speak for a living.
“In the spring semester of 2017, I was teaching a graduate level course on ‘Gender Issues in Education,’” Elizabeth J. Meyer writes on the academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “Since my research has included studying bullying and harassment and school climate issues, I work very intentionally the first day of class to set up an inclusive and welcoming classroom environment that includes multiple ways for students to participate and interact.”
“I present an ‘inclusive welcome’ and facilitate activities that set the stage for thoughtful engagement with diverse individuals on complex ideas.” Meyer is the Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Associate Professor of Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice at the School of Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“One student-athlete had to miss the first class session due to previously scheduled surgery, and he arrived at the next class session wearing a hat that said, ‘Make CU Great Again,’” she remembers of the aforementioned class. “These hats were produced by our athletics department and some players from the CU Football team were wearing them.”
“Notably, I only observed White males wearing these hats even though the team has many players of color. I was stumped about how to handle this situation since the hat so clearly built on the rhetoric of the Trump campaign (even using the same font) and was implicitly endorsed by the powerful athletics unit on our campus. Should I have said something?”
“This is one of the questions I grappled with all semester as I taught a course grounded in feminist and queer theory and that examined theories and research about equity and justice in education during the first 5 months of Trump’s presidential term.”