Just one week after the announcement of the new "free speech" degreeless "college" led by Pano Kanelos, Bari Weiss, and Joe Lonsdale, several of the university's key endorsements have already distanced themselves from the venture.
Shortly after the initial announcement, Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker took to Twitter to offer some bureaucratically cryptic clarity:
Robert Zimmer, the former President and now Chancellor of the University of Chicago, said this in a statement:
While the new organization's commitment to a liberal arts education and free expression reflects topics that are very important to me, I resigned from the Advisory Board on November 11, noting that the new university made a number of statements about higher education in general, largely quite critical, that diverged very significantly from my own views.
The University itself announced its own version of this SNAFU, saying that they had amicably parted ways with Pinker and Zimmer over a simple misunderstanding:
Our website initially failed to make clear the distinction between the Founding Trustees and the Advisory Board. Although we moved swiftly to correct this mistake, it conflated advisors, who were aligned in general with the project but not necessarily in agreement with all its actions and statements, and those who had originated the project and bear responsibility for those things. This led to unnecessary complications for several members of the advisory board, including Robert Zimmer and Steven Pinker, for which we are deeply sorry. We fully understand their decisions to step down as advisors.
In other words: UATX paid a few people for their time, essentially serving as consultants. Then they went ahead and represented those people as formal, ongoing associates of UATX, rather than, ya know, people who were paid to give their opinions one time. That's precisely the kind of cynical chicanery one might expect from those behind this "free speech" venture — where words don't actually mean what they mean, and it's okay to manipulate half-truths in order to make yourselves seem intellectually superior.