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Students Are Not 'Snowflakes,' But They Need to Understand Free Speech

University of California Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman discusses free speech issues such as trigger warnings, safe spaces and free speech zones in this Q&A published by The Los Angeles Times.

Gillman acknowledges that student support for free speech has changed.

"This generation hasn’t lived through that experience of why broad protections of free speech are helpful for social progress," he said. "They’ve seen it mostly in terms of the internet and the terrible dynamic of social media, so I think they have more appreciation for the psychological harm … of people saying offensive things and less appreciation of the historic value of free speech for a free society."

He also said calling students "snowflakes" was unfair.

"They’ve overcome a lot. They are incredibly resilient," said. "Hate speech is incredibly harmful. I don’t think we’re going to make any progress deepening the conversation by dismissing those concerns or criticizing these students. 

"Their legitimate concerns have to be acknowledged, and then we see if we can come to some deeper understanding of how you cope both with issues of inclusion and diversity and with issues of the free expression of ideas."

Read the full article.