Tag Archives: University of Chicago

University of Chicago to cease support of Yerkes in October 2018

The University of Chicago announced today that it will cease all support of the Yerkes Observatory, home of the world’s largest refractive telescope, in October 2018.

The University of Chicago has announced plans to wind down its activities at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis., over the next six months and to formally cease on-site operations by Oct. 1, 2018.

The upcoming summer season will therefore be the final season of University activities at Yerkes. The University is announcing the plans well in advance in order to engage with Yerkes staff and nearby communities, including the village of Williams Bay, in considering long-term plans for the property.

The telescope is no longer useful for scientific research, but it is historically important, and as the press release admits, “has continued to make important contributions through its education and outreach programs.” And while I can understand their decision, they sure didn’t leave the staff at Yerkes much time to find new backers. When the National Science Foundation decided it was dropping support for its telescopes at Kitt Peak, it gave them literally several years to round up new support.

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A university declares its stand for freedom

Good news: The University of Chicago has issued a letter that it is distributing to all incoming students that bluntly tells them it does not care if they are offended by some speech and will instead support the speaker’s free speech.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,” reads the letter from Dean of Students Jay Ellison.

You can read the full letter at the link. Whether this will translate into freedom of speech for both liberal and conservative speakers remains to be seen. This college has had several incidents recently where protesters prevented speakers from speaking. The university’s response was to refuse to discipline the protesters for their disruptions, thus allowing the heckler’s veto to win.

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