3 December 2012
Recently, I have been discussing Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) founder Greg Lukianoff’s Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of the American Debate, and now it turns out that commentator George Will has weighed in:
In recent years, a University of Oklahoma vice president has declared that no university resources, including email, could be used for “the forwarding of political humor/commentary.” The College at Brockport in New York banned using the Internet to “annoy or otherwise inconvenience” anyone. Rhode Island College prohibited, among many other things, certain “attitudes.” Texas Southern University’s comprehensive proscriptions included “verbal harm” from damaging “assumptions” or “implications.” Texas A&M promised “freedom from indignity of any type.” Davidson banned “patronizing remarks.” Drexel University forbade “inappropriately directed laughter.” Western Michigan University banned “sexism,” including “the perception” of a person “not as an individual, but as a member of a category based on sex.” Banning “perceptions” must provide full employment for the burgeoning ranks of academic administrators.
Many campuses congratulate themselves on their broad-mindedness when they establish small “free speech zones” where political advocacy can be scheduled. At one point Texas Tech’s 28,000 students had a “free speech gazebo” that was 20 feet wide. And you thought the First Amendment made America a free speech zone.—George F. Will, “Look to U.S. campuses for a glimpse of liberalism’s future horrors,” National Post, Dec 3, 2012
In short, campuses are increasingly becoming indoctrination centers.
It is worth noting that Will recognizes a key factor that Lukianoff notes: The increasing control of the campus by the administration, as opposed to the professors. Here is the difference it makes.
Students may not realize the significance of increasing administration control if, for whatever reason, they always happen to have the views held by the current administration. Either way, the administration will tend to regard them as if they were employees in a bureaucracy. They will be rewarded for their loyalty or punished for disloyalty. In which case, they may find themselves in the 20-foot gazebo, and possibly marked for life.
Perhaps there is still time to stop this, and return the campus to scholars.
Why censorship cannot be justified just because our intentions are good
Rise of education costs is linked to decline of rights on campus
When equality becomes an instrument of tyranny
More on campus intolerance from Greg Lukianoff’s Unlearning Liberty
Liberal campaigner: Campus is biggest enemy of free speech today