I must disagree with Cindy Weese’s and Kelsen Young’s claim that “nothing in the Department of Justice’s recent Resolution Agreement with the university violates free speech.” The offending language in the agreement is: “The term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” Now, we can all agree that an unwelcome sexual advance falls within this definition. It is at the margins, however, that we encounter problems. One example: years ago one of our English Literature professors used a zucchini creatively to illustrate the baudy nature of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It was, needless to say, hilarious. But if it is unwelcome for one student, it falls within the DOJ definition. When professors are teaching materials at the margin, they have three choices. Plunge ahead and take the risk; seek permission (which means that the University administration takes the risk) or the easiest path — self-censorship. Self-censorship is safe and easy and the language of the DOJ agreement that encourages self-censorship violates free speech.
Jeffrey Rentz, Tbilisi, Georgia