90 Miles From Tyranny : “This Work Terrifies Me”: Virginia Tech Professor Triggers Free Speech Debate Over “Who I Am” Statement

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

“This Work Terrifies Me”: Virginia Tech Professor Triggers Free Speech Debate Over “Who I Am” Statement

It is now common for faculty to include diversity statements with their syllabus. Indeed, such statements are encouraged at most schools. However, a statement by a human development and family science assistant professor at Virginia Tech University has triggered a debate over academic freedom and free speech. Crystal Lynn Duncan Lane reportedly added a “Who I Am” section to her syllabus that has drawn criticism on sites like Campus Reform and from some of her students over an apology for being white and middle class. While Lane states that dealing with her own latent racism is “work [that] terrifies me,” her statement has outraged others who felt that it was itself racist against white students and colleagues. As will come as little surprise to regulars on this site, I believe this is protected speech by Lane. The question for me is whether the university would tolerate a statement denying such inherent racism from a professor. That is the true test of free speech and academic freedom.

In her statement, Lane declares:
“I am a Caucasian cisgender female and first-generation college student from Appalachia who is of Scottish, British, and Norwegian heritage. I am married to a cisgender male, and we are middle class. While I did not ‘ask’ for the many privileges in my life: I have benefitted from them and will continue to benefit from them whether I like it or not.” At the end of her statement, Duncan Lane apologizes to students for the “inexcusable horrors within our shared history.”
The site Campus Reform further quotes Lane as saying
“This is injustice. I am and will continue to work on a daily basis to be antiracist and confront the innate racism within myself that is the reality and history of white people. I want to be better: Every day. I will transform: Every day. This work terrifies me: Every day. I invite my white students to join me on this journey. And to my students of color: I apologize for the inexcusable horrors within our shared history.”
The statement is reminiscent of other such declarations discussed earlier on this site. Last year, we discussed the controversy over the acting Northwestern Law Dean declaring publicly to “I am James Speta and I am a racist.” He was followed by Emily Mullin, executive director of major gifts, who announced, “I am a racist and a gatekeeper of white supremacy. I will work to be better.” Other faculty have been more accusatory of others like the Brandeis dean who declared “all whites are racist.”

Such statements reflect deep-seated political and social views from faculty. Those views may be deeply insulting for students or other faculty. However, I believe that they are still protected speech and reflect intellectual views protected under academic freedom.

The concern that I have is the inconsistent treatment of such controversies where conservative or contrarian faculty are given little accommodation, including a recent case at St. Joseph’s University. A conservative North Carolina professor faced calls for termination over controversial tweets and was pushed to retire. Dr. Mike Adams, a professor of sociology and criminology, had long been a lightning rod of controversy. In 2014, we discussed his prevailing in a lawsuit that alleged discrimination due to his conservative views. He was then targeted again after an inflammatory tweet calling North Carolina a “slave state.” That led to his being pressured to resign with a settlement. He then committed suicide just days before his last day as a professor.

Professor Lane is expressing her views of racism, including her...

Read More HERE


  1. Here's what mine would say:
    I am a white, christian, male republican, married to a white, christian female republican. If any of that frightens or offends you, THAT IS TOUGH SHIT. Grow up.

  2. and I am a white, Jewish, male conservative married to a white, Jewish, female conservative, both of us originally from NYC. Ya' don' like it, I gotta say, "GFY!!"

  3. I am what I yam, and that's all that's I yam, if youse don't like Eat Shite and Expire.
    Bio completed

  4. Her free speech rights don't matter. The left's rules are clear: Anyone they don't like who says anything they don't like gets cancelled. Turnabout is fair play. There's no obligation to respect the rights of those who don't respect yours.

    Cancel her.

  5. Me and my wife both went to college in California in the late 70's-early 80's. We ended up moving out of the state in 96 due to business to DC Metro. We found the school systems were poor and got nowhere fighting the teachers, the admin, or the school board. We ended up tutoring our sons while they went to public school. Looking at colleges we saw they were also failing from when we went so we sent our sons to different Trade Schools. The costs of each was half a year of college, but they make close to six figures and have homes and cars.


Test Word Verification