PBS NewsHour Features President Berger-Sweeney’s Essay on Upholding Free Speech

Trinity’s Leader Says Preparing Students for Real World Means Exposing Them to Different Views

President Joanne Berger-Sweeney appears on
PBS NewsHour's "In My Humble Opinion" series.


Hartford, Connecticut, May 6, 2017 – Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney appeared on PBS NewsHour, weighing in on the important role colleges and universities play in upholding free speech and teaching students the responsibilities that come with that freedom.

In a segment that aired Friday evening, May 5, as part of PBS NewsHour’s weekly “In My Humble Opinion” series, Berger-Sweeney’s video-essay was introduced by news anchor Hari Sreenivasan, who noted, “We are headed into commencement season, and each week seems to bring a new fight over whose ideas should be heard. Tonight, Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney shares her Humble Opinion that universities are exactly the place for these difficult conversations.”

In her essay, Berger-Sweeney spoke about “teaching students this important lesson: Silencing voices and refusing to listen harms us all.” She continued, “That’s why, for my first Commencement as president in 2015, I awarded honorary degrees to both a retired Air Force general and a renowned peace advocate. And that’s why, this year, we will hear a Commencement speech from philosopher Daniel Dennett, a well-known atheist, beside the statue of our founding president, an Episcopalian bishop, exposing students to different perspectives and helping them bridge divides.”

At the conclusion of her essay, Berger-Sweeney said, “This work is deeply personal to me. It may be the most important work I will do as president. When we teach students how to analyze an opposing argument and sharpen their own, how to relate across differences, how to listen and be heard, we are preparing our students for the real world. In fact, we’re giving them the tools to make our world a lot better.”

Click here to view the video as well as a transcript of the PBS NewsHour “In My Humble Opinion” segment featuring Berger-Sweeney.