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Sean Decatur is the president of Kenyon College and the first African-American to hold that job. He’s also one of the most thoughtful voices in the debate over free speech and political correctness on campus.

"Colleges and universities have been charged from their very origins to advance civility, and this has meant regulating student behavior on campus,” he says. "If anything, the approach taken earlier in history was far stricter than anything that 21st-century critics of higher education see as a product of 'political correctness.’”

Decatur manages these conflicts as a college president, looks at them as a historian, and brings a perspective that’s unusually alert to the larger social context. As such, this is a conversation that begins in the fights over speech but quickly dives into more fundamental questions, like what kind of learnings we value, whose definitions of civility matter, what we ask colleges to teach, and what the role of the student has become.

This debate often plays out with far less nuance than it deserves. Decatur's perspective is an antidote to that.

Book Recommendations:
Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education by Nathan D. Grawe
The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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