Mount St. Mary’s President Addresses Free Speech Following Charlottesville Violence

He says racism, bigotry and hatred have no place on campus.


Emmitsburg, Md. (KM). Long before the march by Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists groups at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville earlier in August, and the violence which followed, colleges and universities have come under scrutiny, with some conservatives saying  institutions of higher learning are too liberal, and conservative points of view are not allowed on campus. That’s not the case at Mount Saint Mary’s University, according to President Tim Trainor. He says all opinions are expressed at the Mount. “We have plenty of conservative views on campus. But also what would be termed liberal views on campus We have spectrum of views and that’s kind of based on who were are, and as a Catholic institution of higher education committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition,” he says.

But extremist views, such  as expressed in Charlottesville,  are not welcome, he says. “There’s no room here or in America for the racism, the bigotry and the hatred that’s been spewed by Neo-Nazis, white supremacy and similarly-minded groups,” say Trainor.

Because the Mount is an institution of higher learning, Trainor says controversial topics are discussed quite often in the classroom and other venues on campus. “Students, faculty are encouraged to talk about controversial subjects in class, in other forms on campus. That’s all part of academic freedom and we fully endorse academic freedom and free speech,” he says.

But President Trainor says the University has a policy when it comes to inviting speakers on campus, including those who may be controversial. He says it can be balancing act. “With controversial speakers, I have to weigh the responsibility for the safe and secure environment here with academic freedom, with free speech and also take into account does this speaker have anything of value to share,” he says.

Across the country, there have been speakers invited to campus, some with conservative points of view, who have later been disinvited because their presence caused controversy on campus. Earlier this year, the Hood College Republicans set up a display on campus  dealing with issues such as abortion and being transgender, which some found disagreeable, and led to discussions about whether it should be removed.


By Kevin McManus