Amid the controversy sparked after alleged anti-national slogans were raised at an event for Afzal Guru in JNU, Venkaiah Naidu responded to US envoy Richard Verma’s comments about the importance of free speech in society by asking if any university in the US would tolerate an event for Osama Bin Laden, and the president of Princeton University has a reply for him.

Princeton University President Christopher L Eisgruber expressed his disagreement with Naidu, he told The Indian Express,

“We would and should tolerate that. It would be very disruptive. People would be very angry about the statement. But we would not discipline somebody for making statements of that nature.”

He added,

“We would permit that (event) and there would be no disciplinary action of any kind against those students. That’s unambiguous. It could be very offensive. I might be called upon depending on what the students said or did.”

While students of several universities and academicians worldwide have come out in solidarity with the students of JNU who have faced harsh action from the state, the president of one of eight Ivy League institutions in US explained what universities are all about, Quartz reported.

b’Princeton University | Source: Reuters’

In the past some University Graduate students at Princeton had organised a protest at the campus to show solidarity for JNU students and Kanhaiya Kumar, joining other universities worldwide, They told The Daily Princetonian “In a democracy you can have slogans that are distasteful; this is not seditious.”

Eisgruber further told The Indian Express,

“We at Princeton believe that it is a fundamental advantage for a university to be able to tolerate even offensive kinds of speech and to respond to bad arguments when they are made with more speech rather than with disciplinary actions.”

Last month US Envoy Richard Verma has said, Free speech has been the hallmark of democracy both in India and the US.” To which Venkaiah Naidu had asked about freedom to celebrate “Osama Bin Laden’s martyrdom anniversary”. 

Feature image source: Princeton University/ PTI