University of Delaware

A Great University

University President, Dennis Assanis

A few weeks ago, legendary First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams spoke to a packed Gore Recital Hall about the truly unique nature of American free speech. He cited many relevant examples from today’s headlines: the presidential campaign, political protests, journalism, social media and more. However divisive or outrageous some speech might be, Abrams said, America is “exceptional” for its willingness to pay a steep price — namely, the potential to be deeply offended — to maintain free speech.

At the University of Delaware, we embrace this same principle of free speech. A great university is an open marketplace of ideas, where students can — and should — encounter the often-conflicting opinions and perspectives of peers, professors and diverse thinkers from all ages and cultures. This is how we learn, grow and gain a clear understanding of the world and our place in it.

This is Free Speech Week, an annual celebration of this principle promoted by The Media Institute, a nonprofit research foundation. It follows last month’s Banned Books Week, which was organized by the American Libraries Association and included a public reading of several controversial books by our students. These efforts to highlight the importance of free expression are especially relevant to a university campus, which thrives on open dialogue. Indeed, if free speech cannot flourish here, it is endangered everywhere.

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By Dennis Assanis, University President and Guest Contributor, The Review