It can be hard to repair the campus climate for speech “in the heat of controversy,” Shahverdian said, “and right now could not be a bigger one.” But she said she was hopeful that the high-profile nature of the current debate could spur reflection and help colleges “do better next time.”

Still, cultivating open and constructive discussion on a subject about which many on campus have deeply held, and often intractable, views is likely to be a tall order.

Even for the experts, such issues can be difficult to navigate, said Shibley Telhami, a professor of peace and development at the University of Maryland at College Park. In a survey he conducted with Marc Lynch, a political scientist at George Washington University, 57 percent of Middle East scholars said they self-censor in an academic or professional context, citing pressures from external advocacy groups and concerns about campus culture.

And if scholars of the Middle East, who are experts in this most divisive of topics, can’t find a way to speak openly and honestly on the subject, who can?