Christina Paxson, Brown’s president, is displaying an admirable commitment to free speech in the wake of the Ray Kelly heckling incident. In contrast to college presidents who let censorious protests slide, Paxson is calling for a serious investigation into the events of October 29, when Brown students and Providence community members prevented Kelly from speaking. Labeling these actions “a breach of the University’s fundamental value of open discourse,” one that “cannot be ignored,” Paxson assured the Brown community that after the faculty/student committee completes the investigation, it will “determine whether individuals or organizations involved should be referred to the University’s established processes for resolving alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct.”
Of course, we don’t know if Paxson will follow through. But so far, her example presents a refreshing contrast to the erosion of free speech on other prominent campuses across the nation. Fortunately, it seems her students are following suit–73 percent disapproved of the protestors’ tactics.