In the speech delivered by Toni Morrison at Princeton in 2000, she addresses the issue of values in the university. More specifically, she delves into three main questions: whether values should be taught, how values should be taught, and which values should be taught. After dismissing the first as negligible, since values will obviously be taught even if not explicitly laid out, she continues on to discuss the second two.
I would like to bring attention to the part of the reading where Ms. Morrison discusses the more subconscious teaching of values that occurs, such that “Through everything I say, write, and do, however I may try to stand between… my position is either known or available to be known,” (Morrison, 2001). Universities teach values by inscribing them into written tangible policies, such as those as anti-harassment policies that are meant to physically lay out the values the university claims to uphold; however it is not always the case that those inscribed values are then translated into the actions taken by the university. Take for example fall semester 2018, when a professor made public his opinion on sexual assault in the realm of high position jobs. The said professor published an opinion piece on a personal platform stating that he thought that sexual assault done as a teenager should be a pre-requisite for those seeking to hold office and be leaders. The response from the college was that of discordance, however, besides a verbal disagreement, no other action was taken by the university to uphold the values they claimed in policy. This was due to the lack of desire to undermine another value that the university upheld, that being of secure tenured positions. In this case, it could be argued that despite the inscribed policies outlining the values being set out in anti-harassment rules and in many policies said to be upheld by the university, a different set of values was taught than those directly outlined.
This relates to Morrison in that even when values are explicitly listed as ones that the university prioritizes and teaches, the actions and lack of actions that are seen can either reinforce said values, or not. This continues to get even trickier when multiple values that are prioritized by the university come into conflict with one another, which can be seen in the example given. How to resolve these conflicts is yet another way that the values of the university is represented and taught.
-- works cited --
Morrison, Toni. “How Can Values Be Taught in the University?” Michigan Quarterly Review XL, no. 2 (Spring 2001). http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.act2080.0040.201.