Dear Members of the Board:
I read with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation the unexpected announcement earlier this month that President Rebecca Chopp is departing Swarthmore to become the chancellor of the University of Denver.
The well-documented inability of American colleges and universities to reverse the several-decades-long curtailment of free speech on campus is a matter of considerable public interest. Whether the federal government is capable of producing effective reform is another question. President Trump seems to believe Washington is up to the task.
There’s no doubt that the current aim of higher education – “reproduction of ideology and the formation of like-minded political activists” – is harming America and the students and taxpayers who pay vast sums to these indoctrination factories.
The crisis of higher education imposes severe, if indirect and long-term, costs on the country. The harms it inflicts on conservatives in particular are direct and immediate. All students and the nation at large pay the price when universities replace transmission of knowledge and cultivation of inquiring minds as their primary purpose with reproduction of ideology and the formation of like-minded political activists.
Dean Martha Minow flunks the test...
Donald Trump’s presidency has provoked an outpouring of anguished commentary about the norms — that is, customary behavior and moral standards — that underlie liberal democracy in America. The president has certainly disrupted settled patterns of campaigning, politics, and governance. The reasons for his success, the limitations of his style, and the consequences for the nation deserve careful examination.
John Stuart Mill, a liberal in the old and better sense of the word, once tried to explain the difference between what too many of today's upwardly mobile confuse with an education and the real thing. An educated man or woman is someone who does more than climb on the career treadmill and follow it to the heights of power, influence and wealth.
When one-fifth of college students believe it's fine to use violence to silence speech, we have a huge problem.
In the name of social justice and diversity, students at elite colleges are casting aside the very works that probe those topics so deeply. The central authors of the Western tradition—from Plato and Aristotle to Mill and Orwell—are no longer part of the required curriculum in the social sciences and the humanities. Their absence carries a high price.
At a National Archives ceremony last Friday in Washington, D.C., 30 immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens. In a video, President Trump encouraged them to embrace the “full rights, and the sacred duties, that come with American citizenship.”
In his “Theses on Feuerbach,” the young Karl Marx proclaimed, “[P]hilosophers have only hitherto interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it” (emphasis in original). Mission statements of several of our preeminent colleges and universities follow suit. The primary purpose of liberal education, according to these formal pronouncements, is not to understand the world but to remake it.
The threat to free speech in the United States is by no means restricted to colleges and universities, but they have become breeding grounds, training camps, and launching pads in the campaign to curtail liberty of thought and discussion. It is on our campuses where the battle for free speech will be won or lost.
On college campuses, outrage over provocative speakers sometimes turns violent. It's becoming a pattern on campuses around the country. A speaker is invited, often by a conservative student group. Other students oppose the speaker, and maybe they protest. If the speech happens, the speaker is heckled. Sometimes there's violence.
In an October 26, 2016, letter to the Wall Street Journal, Professor David M. Post, chair of Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, defended the Ivy League institution’s “procedures for addressing sexual misconduct.” But his formulation betrayed him.
President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order prohibiting nationals from seven countries roiled by jihadism from entering the United States for three months—and the administration’s bungled roll-out of the order—reminded foreign policy elites in both parties why they feared and loathed Trump. As if they needed a reminder.
Much as administrators and faculty may dislike it, the fact is that public colleges are subject to both the First Amendment and the state legislatures that fund them. Legislators shouldn’t micromanage the campuses, but they must set some basic rules.
On April 22, University of California Berkeley law professor Sujit Choudhry filed an 11-page single-spaced grievance with the 10-member UC Berkeley Privilege and Tenure Committee.
Here are two interesting takes on free speech (or the lack thereof) on American college campuses. Jason L. Riley, a black conservative and Manhattan Institute senior fellow who often contributes to the Wall Street Journal, says he had an invitation to speak at Virginia Tech yanked.
Most Americans understand that individuals who have been subject to an authorized disciplinary procedure and have accepted their prescribed punishment shouldn’t be investigated and punished a second time for the same offense.
The notion of requiring students to take two courses in Western Civilization to earn a diploma is so controversial at Stanford University that a recently launched petition that calls for as much has propelled the school into a heated debate complete with name-calling, intimidation tactics and more.