Reviving Critical Community on Campus

Paul Brest

(Originally published by The Chronicle of Higher Education on January 9, 2024)

Critical discourse was in critical condition on American campuses even before reactions to the war between Israel and Hamas left it with no discernible pulse.

At Stanford Law School, where I have taught for many years, students across the spectrum of beliefs and identities have become increasingly reluctant to engage each other productively on controversial issues. As the College Pulse/FIRE 2024 College Free Speech Rankings and the 2021 Stanford IDEAL survey reveal, many students feel excluded from classroom discussions and fear ostracization should they say the wrong thing. Far from being unique, Stanford sadly turns out to be typical.

(Continue reading the opinion essay on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s page here)