Oxford University installed its first female vice-chancellor this week, Louise Richardson, who boldly stressed the importance of free speech and critical thinking at university amid roiling student protests.
Addressing students for the first time in her new role, Richardson urged them to be open-minded and tolerant; and to engage in debate rather than censorship, alluding to countless calls from students at Oxford and other universities across the U.K. to ban potentially offensive speakers and rename or remove historical monuments...America was founded by men who took the ideals of what it meant to be an Englishman, what the proper relationship between citizen and government was, and made it reality. Over the course of almost two and a half centuries since, Britain lost her way. And now that too many of us in the United States are losing our way, we see the British applying what we taught them so well.
Richardson’s installment comes as students at Oxford’s Oriel College campaign to dismantle a statue of Cecil Rhodes, the British colonialist who endowed the Rhodes Scholarship...
Richardson stood by the university’s chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, as he referenced the statue debate, reminding students that history cannot be rewritten “according to our contemporary views and prejudices.” He, too, was forthright in his criticism of speech codes and calls for “no-platforming” controversial speakers...
These campaigners seem too blinded by identity politics to recognize that their progressive ideology is often profoundly intolerant.
Unlike the present tone of the Oxford academic leadership, university leaders in the U.S. have frequently cowed to student demands and demonstrations.
The pendulum swings ever more.