18 October ,2016
Protests and controversy have swept many U.S. college campuses in the last year, putting American colleges in the dilemma between providing inclusive and respectful environments and fostering open inquiry and the free exchange of ideas. This task is a great challenge, especially in the midst of a contentious American presidential campaign. How can colleges handle difficult conversations inside and outside of the classroom? This topic is ever more relevant on both sides of the Pacific.
Savantas Policy Institute held a seminar on “Free speech, Activism and Academic Freedom on Campus” at HKUST Business School Central in Central today (18th October). We were honoured to have the president of Pomona College, Professor David W. Oxtoby as our speaker today, who shared his view on the pressing and sensitive matter.
Mrs Regina Ip, LegCo Member and Chairperson of Board of Governors of Savantas Policy Institute, delivered welcoming remarks for the seminar, expressing her gratitude to Professor Oxtoby for his acceptance of the invitation to speak at the event. Mrs. Regina Ip pointed out that the roomful of audience showed the relevance and importance of the topic.
Professor David W. Oxtoby pointed out in his speech that American campuses have a strong tradition of academic freedom, whilst it is also the responsibility of an academic institution to provide an inclusive environment for its members. The two are not incompatible with each other and are both worth pursuing in the academic environments of universities. Citing the case of promoting inclusion on campus as an example, He pointed out that colleague authorities should work together with students in bettering society together, and should educating students on treating different ideas respectfully.
After his excellent keynote presentation, an interactive, open-floor discussion followed. The seminar attracted a 60-strong audience including university presidents, scholars and professionals in various sectors, and came to a successful end at 4 P.M.
In times of division, dialogue is more needed than ever. It is important that those with different beliefs can come together with cool heads and speak their minds. Hopefully this spirit of rationalism can prevail in both the United States of America and in Hong Kong, where people of different creeds can work in harmony and strive for a better society.
(From left to right) Mrs Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, LegCo and ExCo Member and Chairperson of Board of Governors of Savantas Policy Institute and President of Pomona College, Professor David W. Oxtoby
President of Pomona College, Professor David W. Oxtoby delivering his keynote speech.
Lively interaction between Professor Oxtoby and our guests.