(NEW YORK)— In response to the news of Liz Magill’s resignation as president of the  University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America, released the following statement:

“President Magill’s resignation is testament to the dilemmas of maintaining a campus that both upholds uncompromising free speech protections and facilitates an open, equitable environment for all students, regardless of race, religion or nationality.  We have long stressed the importance of the university using its institutional voice to denounce denigration and dehumanization and stand in solidarity with those targeted by hatred.  Doing so forcefully need not and must not mean backing away from free speech protections.  It’s hard to do the two things at once, but ultimately for our universities to play their role in knitting together our polarized society they need to get it right.  We should not hold university leaders to impossible standards, nor reward combative approaches by campus constituencies that overlook the genuine challenges involved. We hope that this development does not serve as an invitation for politicians or donors to try to exert undue control over our higher education institutions. Rather, it should spur a recommitment from universities to more forcefully embrace this dual responsibility, creating campuses where bigotry is rejected and free speech can thrive. “


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057