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Now on the Orientation Schedule: Free Speech and ChatGPT

Now on the Orientation Schedule: Free Speech and ChatGPT

Inside Higher Ed

Johanna Alonso
August 25, 2023
New student orientation: it’s when students tour their new campus, learn about its policies, make new friends and … debate the ethics of ChatGPT.
At least that’s what happened this year at Denison University, a private liberal arts college in Ohio, where freshmen participated in a live debate ahead of the first day of classes. Students in the crowd were invited to stand and share their arguments about ChatGPT with a facilitator; according to the rules, developed and promoted by Braver Angels, a nonprofit focused on political depolarization, they could not directly address one another but had to respond strictly to the ideas presented.
It marked the second year in a row that Denison staged a debate during orientation; last fall, students engaged in a discourse over free speech restrictions.
“It was just a huge success. The first-year students were lining up at the microphones to do speeches on both sides of the debate. They were asking questions,” said Adam Davis, director of the Lisska Center for Intellectual Engagement at Denison, who noted that a handful of other institutions started offering debates during orientation this year. “We had students who were furiously typing their little speeches on their phone.”
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