In 1932, the University of Chicago faced a watershed moment in its university policy: what to do about a Communist. When a UChicago student organization invited William Z. Foster, the Communist Party’s presidential candidate, to lecture on the prestigious campus, the school faced immense backlash. Between concerned citizens and angry politicians, the public condemned Foster’s visit, dismissing his views as “treasonous hate rhetoric.” Even then-governor of Illinois, Louis Lincoln Emmerson, expressed his disapproval of the university for permitting the lecture to continue. In response to the criticism, UChicago President Robert M. Hutchins released a public statement that defined a precedent for the school: “Our students should have the freedom to discuss any problem that presents itself … the cure for ideas we oppose lies through open discussion rather than through inhibition.”
From their genesis, colleges and universities were designed to serve as hubs of knowledge, spaces to expand one’s perspective and mindset. Since then, colleges have evolved in a multitude of ways — there are now thousands of diverse, unique schools with their own distinct mission statements and practices.