The Pacific Index

Speech codes:

Hallick talks implementation

Steven Childress

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The recent election has presented an interesting opportunity for Pacific University and other 
universities across the country when it comes to examining policies pertaining to civil discourse. 
The office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will be working with Pacific’s Diversity Committee, Board of Trustees, Undergraduate Student Senate, Faculty Senate and other groups who have interest as well. “How do we have respectful civil discourse with a variety of points of view that are allowed to be shared in a respectful manner? That is really what 
this is about,” president Lesley Hallick said. “And especially post-election when there’s so much angst and so much tension and anger. How can we foster as an institution, a culture where people feel safe and free to exchange ideas?”
The opportunity to bring to light existing ideas of civil discourse on campus is still in its infancy. The conversations that are being had have been referred to as the development of a speech code. Hallick has confirmed that this is not an effort to create or establish a speech code, but rather an effort to create some policies to promote a safe environment to have tough conversations with differing viewpoints. “I’m not sure how this is going to end up, I guess the practical implication is that we’re going to develop some policies so I don’t expect those policies will be at odds with existing policies,” Hallick said. “They’re more likely either in the student handbook or the faculty handbook. I think they’re more likely to expand on them, explain them more directly, more explicitly or approach it from a slightly different angle.” The political climate all around the country has been turbulent and Pacific has been no exception. 
Fear, angst and anger have been emotions many students have felt for various reasons and this climate has inspired several conversations about civil discourse and its importance at this university as well as other universities. “There are people who are genuinely frightened and that has to be honored and protected so I think it was the climate this fall that triggered the thought that we needed to look into this and the more we looked into it, the more we thought maybe we either don’t have the policies or we don’t have the ramifications 
of the policies well-articulated,” Hallick said.  “We haven’t been talking about them so this is a good time to do that.” The ideas being discussed about civil discourse at Pacific are nothing new. 
Universities across the country are examining ways that can improve the environments for all students to have a voice. Many of the ideas that are being discussed have already been seen on campus. “I don’t want to hold it out as a new idea,” Hallick said. “I think it’s kind of enabling the campus to have the discussion and I hope building on the skill sets of faculty who are already having the discussion and kind of drawing them out, rather than creating a whole new thought, because I think a lot of these thoughts are already here.” 
Whether this is referred to as a speech code or an exploration of ideas leading to new policies, respectful argument or civil discourse allows for new perspectives and new ideas. The want for input will be extended to many different groups who are interested. “So I think it’s going to be a little stressful, but a really good conversation for the campus to be having,” Hallick said. “We want it to take place in as many different forums as possible so that people can share that.”
Hallick will be visiting with professor David 
Cassady’s media law class on Monday, Feb. 27. Hallick will be answering questions about how the speech code might take shape in the year to come. It will be a good start for a series of conversations to come.
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