Governor Glenn Youngkin is stepping up his efforts to diversify the political opinions offered to students in the Commonwealth, calling on university presidents to hire faculty “with diverse political perspectives” and encourage free speech on campuses statewide. On Tuesday, Youngkin sent a letter to the Council of Presidents outlining is expectations for universities in Virginia in the upcoming school year.
Along with his outlined expectations, Youngkin requested that universities not raise tuition fees for the upcoming academic year. An issue that has been central to the ongoing negotiations over the state budget that have stalled between the state Senate and House of Delegates. Youngkin urged president to “work to lower the net cost of higher education for Virginia’s students.”
The letter sent earlier this week follows a meeting between Youngkin and university president across the state in which the governor emphasized his desire to see free speech expanded, not restricted, on college campuses in the Commonwealth. The letter expanded beyond the bounds of a commitment to promote free speech on campus and called for the presidents to “nurture a culture that prioritizes civil discourse and debate, both inside and outside the classroom.”
“This framework and accompanying toolkit of emerging best practices, policies and protocols should address annual faculty, staff, and student training, approaches to prioritize the hiring of staff and faculty with diverse political perspectives, support of events and forums to model the exchange of ideas from different perspectives in a civil and productive manner, the set of non-negotiables that will not be tolerated on our campuses, and other steps to further these fundamental freedoms on our campuses,” Youngkin wrote in the letter.
Earlier this year the University of Virginia was to home to a high-profile debate over the role of free speech on campus, when the student paper The Daily Cavalier published its opposition to former Vice President Mike Pence speaking on campus. Faculty members slammed the student paper for limiting free speech and restricting student’s access to broad spectrum of opinions. Pence eventually spoke to an energized crowd with little disruption from protestors.
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