“Harassment and hostility are not debate,” guest speaker Margaret Spellings, a former U.S. secretary of education who is the president and CEO of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said.
The audience in Newcomb Hall included the presidents of every public college and university in Virginia and 17 of the 23 private institutions. The idea for the Higher Education Summit on Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity was to gather college leaders and discuss ways they could better support free speech on their campuses, even when a speaker or topic is offensive to the majority of the students or faculty.
“First, when it comes to freedom of expression, we have to create an environment that protects the ability to challenge conventional thinking,” Youngkin said in his keynote address. “Challenging beliefs and fostering an environment for these debates is exactly why we all exist.”