Reed College, a tiny liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon, was in the news last week for supposed academic oppression. Jeremiah True, a freshman student there, was kicked out of his Humanities 110 conference for the rest of the semester by his professor, Pancho Savery. In an interview with BuzzFeed, True claimed it was because he questioned the commonly cited statistic that one in five American women have been raped.
But in an interview with Reason, Savery disputed that story: “He was not banned because of what he said but because of a series of disruptive behaviors.” (True will still get credit if he finishes the rest of the class.)
I don’t know what happened in that class. But I know this: Freewheeling debate is a valuable part of a good academic education, but it is not the only thing. Common courtesy and respect for one’s classmates are equally important. The evidence suggests that True does not understand this.