There’s a new student group at Harvard that wants to promote free speech — and they are already stirring up controversy.
Officially formed last Decemeber, the Open Campus Initiative promotes free speech by inviting controversial speakers to campus.
According to USA Today College, Harvard sophomore and President of the group, Conor Healy, was inspired to organize it after enrolling in a freshman seminar focusing on free speech. Originally from Toronto, Healy told the Harvard Crimson that the groups hopes to “[test] the university’s policies on free speech."
The group held its first meeting in January, and has expanded to include more than 30 general members. They hold weekly meetings and are advised by Harvard computer science professor Harry Lewis.
“I tend to think that if students want a club they should have a club, as long as it is operating within the bounds of College policy,” Lewis said in a statement to USA Today College.
So far, the group has invited speakers such as Canadian professor Jordan B. Peterson and American libertarian conservative writer Charles Murray to speak at Harvard.
Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, made headlines after publicly refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns. Murray is a similarly controversial figure — last month, students from New York University protested against his "racism and classism," reported the National Review.
The group said that while they have invited mainly conservative speakers to campus, they plan to invite controversial liberal guests as well.
Unsurprisingly, the group has been criticized by various students.
“Some people see it as stirring the pot. I mean, the very fact that people see it that was is part of the reason why we these events are important, because we have fundamental disagreements, I suppose, with a lot of people about what it means to be a student on this campus,” Healy said to the Crimson.
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