The State of Free Speech on College Campuses in the U.S.A.

Publication of three recent articles, and indeed, my own personal experience, serve to highlight the particularly anti-free speech, anti-American sentiment present on college campuses today. Sure, anti-American sentiment has always had a presence on the college campus, at least since the early to mid 1960’s, but the absolute assault on free speech, the totalitarian tactics of students and perhaps more importantly, college administrators, combined with the Huxleyan ignorance that pervades our society and culture, are relatively new phenomena.

Mike Adams, professor of Sociology and Criminology at UNC-Wilmington, not the Mike Adams of the hack pseudoscience website NaturalNews.com (not linked intentionally), authored the first article that prompted this post: Thatcher in the Rye. Through the use of a specific example, Adams demonstrates the anti-free speech atmosphere that exists on college campuses today. Certainly one specific incident, an anecdote, but merely the most recent actor on a back drop of fifteen years of such columns. Adams has further emerged victorious in at least three court cases related to free speech on the UNCW campus (1, 2, 3). Adams, victorious on the front lines of university free speech issues, is more than qualified to comment on this issue.

Adams column is summarized in “five lessons” that should be taken from this incident.

  1. College administrators, and increasingly college professors, erroneously think they have the right to paper over the constitution with their student handbooks and syllabi (creating things like speech codes and speech zones).
  2. College administrators, and increasingly college professors, have so many policies that they cannot even keep track of them (most don’t even know where the miniscule “speech zones” are located).
  3. College administrators, and increasingly college professors, think that destroying speech is actually protected speech (see the learned Thatcher in the video).
  4. College administrators, and increasingly college professors, think the unconstitutional rules they have created apply to everyone but them (also see Thatcher expressing his “speech” in what he just deemed to be a non-speech area outside the “speech zone.”).
  5. College administrators, and increasingly college professors, think it is their job to treat college students like children and shield their innocence by protecting them from “offensive” speech (hence the pun in the title of this column, which was inspired by J.D. Salinger).

Closing his article Adams notes, importantly, that college campuses, are free speech zones.

In a nutshell, college campuses are free speech areas. “Professor” Greg Thatcher doesn’t understand that. But he is about to learn because pro-life students at Fresno State University are about to sue his little shorts off. And the administration should follow up on this case by firing Thatcher before he is granted tenure.

Any institution that accepts government funding is obligated to uphold the rights of its members free speech. They’re not in a position to preclude this, as Adams victories in the court cases linked above and this particular incident will likely illustrate.

The second column of interest was authored by Daniel Greenfield, an author focusing on issues generally related to radical Islam and is published in David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine, both of which/whom are highly recommended, in general.

Greenfield’s point is that college campuses with their “free speech zones, thought policing, violent protests and kangaroo courts” do not resemble any typical American Institution; that they are indeed totalitarian, mini-facist institutions. The entire article is certainly worth reading, as it provides some specific examples, commentary on each specific example, and thoughts about the future of the our nation, based on the fact that the colleges of today will produce the leaders of tomorrow.

Microaggressions, safe spaces, tone-policing, identity caste systems, no platforming and the end of truth aren’t just some silly campus nonsense. They are the blueprint for the future of the United States…

Imagine what tomorrow’s leaders would be like if they all got an education in North Korea. That’s the crisis we face today. The leaders of tomorrow are coming of age in the totalitarian campus states of today. When one of those polls emerge showing that 7 out of 10 college students want to ban offensive speech, it’s not a generational phenomenon so much as it is environmental indoctrination.

Greenfield further notes that truth has largely become irrelevant on college campuses today based on the logically contradictory notion that

Truth is a construct. The search for truth endangers minorities. That isn’t just true in the intellectual sense, but in the evidentiary one. If you try to determine whether a hate crime really happened or whether discrimination really exists, you are endangering their ability to exercise power through claims of oppression.

Facts and truth create unsafe spaces for politically correct tyranny. Safe spaces are places where truth and civil rights don’t exist.

According to Greenfield this culminates in the notion that

Today’s campus is unsafe for America. Taxpayers have invested enormous amounts of money into funding an educational system that rejects everything that makes our society work. If that does not change, then our society will be destroyed by the consequences.

Serving as a perfect segue into the third article interest: The Top 10 College Administrations Most Friendly to Terrorists and Hostile to the First Amendment, authored by Sara Dogan, a person whose background is not familiar to me, and also published in Front Page Magazine, claims that in recent years, an ominous anti-American, anti-Israel, and indeed, anti-Western sentiment has not only become a familiar presence on campus, but has gained the support of universities via financial incentives or disincentives and further tends to have the support of college administrations as well.

Of all the disturbing trends to have emerged on college campuses in recent years, perhaps the most ominous is the support universities offer to terrorist-linked campus organizations such as the Hamas-funded hate-group Students for Justice in Palestine while actively suppressing speech critical of Israel’s terrorist adversaries and their allies in the United States. Administrators at San Francisco State University, UCLA, the University of Chicago, Tufts University, Brooklyn College and other schools have actively supported organizations supporting terrorists and their activities while suppressing their critics.

Dogan, delineates some of the anti-Jewish, pro-terrorist activities of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP):

  • SJP is the chief promoter of the Hamas-inspired and funded “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign in America
  • SJP also stages annual “Israeli Apartheid” hate weeks on campuses across the nation which feature pro-Hamas speakers, as well as displaying pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic propaganda.
  • SJP also creates mock checkpoints and die-ins that obstruct student movements on campus
  • SJP disrupts pro-Israel campus events
  • Threatens Jewish and pro-Israel speakers
  • SJP has physically assaulted Jewish students.

Dogan provides a list detailing the “ten worst collegiate offenders” with respect to support of organizations affiliated with terrorism and the concomitant anti-Israel, anti-American sentiment associated with such belief systems that additionally reject criticism of such organizations and their activities. They are:

  1. Brandeis University
  2. Brooklyn College (CUNY)
  3. Saint Louis University
  4. San Francisco State University
  5. Tufts University
  6. University of California, Berkeley
  7. University of California, Los Angeles
  8. University of Chicago
  9. University of Minnesota
  10. Vassar College

Again, the entire article is worth reading, as it provides the specific incident(s) at each university that prompted Front Page Magazine to compile this list and place these universities on it.

Finally, I’ll include a story from my own personal experience. While not exactly related to free speech or anti-American sentiment, the example perfectly exemplifies administrative overreach and the totalitarian nature of university administrations, or at least the totalitarian nature of the administration at my specific university.

As is the case with many, or perhaps most universities these days, there is a targeted and deliberate effort, typically enshrined in university policy, to increase the “diversity” of the faculty on campus. Though it typically goes without saying, for the sake of clarity, I’ll point out that “diversity” in this context refers not to diversity of thought, beliefs, or values, but rather diversity with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, gender choice, and even class, with ‘ensuring the success of first generation college students’ currently en vogue on many campuses. The thought process of the entire faculty, student body, and administration might be a monolith of leftist drivel, but if an image of the university shows white, black, and everything in between, as well as male, female, and everything… else, it’s considered diverse.

As a consequence of this push for diversity, administration has largely taken over the process of hiring new faculty at my institution. Some of the aspects of the process seem innocuous enough: HR reviews the applicant pool and provides us with a pool of qualified applicants that are diverse in that they tend to be comprised of a wide variety of demographic variables. Following the closing of a job opening, HR will review applications, and provide us with anywhere from 20-40 applicants to review. Though I can’t swear to it, as I don’t work in the HR department, but based on some conversations I’ve had with a friend of mine in the HR department, I’m willing to speculate that a number of qualified applicants have been denied interviews because they fall into a demographic that’s currently considered “diverse.”

To be completely honest, I understand the logic behind HR providing an initial screening of applicants, but in general, HR personnel are not qualified to determine whether an applicants credentials coincide with the particular needs of the department. I say this based on the large number of applicants that are either extremely under qualified, or simply have the wrong background based on the my department’s advertised and explicitly stated needs. While perhaps pragmatic and even borne out of good intentions, HR providing an initial screen and then considering demographic variables, as opposed to qualifications alone has almost surely resulted in excellent candidates being denied interviews.

One can attribute this to the realistic and pragmatic function of a large bureaucracy such as a university, but what can’t be excused and what is nothing more than pandering to the politically correct, totalitarian, diversity police is what happens next in the hiring process.

The members of my department review the applicants we receive from HR, and narrow it down to a list of 10-12 applicants that for whom we arrange phone interviews. Following the phone interviews, we’ll generally bring in three final candidates for a in person interview and teaching demonstration. Though it probably goes without saying, just so we’re all on the same page: A history of excellent research scholarship doesn’t translate into teaching ability or a personality that fits in any position. Furthermore, a great phone interview doesn’t necessarily translate into a being a good teacher, or having a solid idea to build a research program. The point is that narrowing our pool to three candidates can be challenging as it is. A great researcher might be a terrible teacher, etc., so the three candidates that are interviewed, while being qualified, could be a horrible fit for a variety of other reasons.

Sadly, the in person interview has largely become an irrelevant formality at my school. My department will bring three candidates to campus, interview them, evaluate their teaching style, which typically includes feedback from current students, and will consider their research interests, funding, and needs in the context of departmental needs and resources. In other words, the process of deciding which candidate is the best fit for our department and university is labor intensive, painstaking, and as it so happens a total waste of time.

Administration at my university has mandated that we send over the names of our three candidates unranked, meaning we can’t indicate which candidate we liked best, nor can we indicate if a candidate is unacceptable to our department for any reason, and the administration makes the decision about which candidate to hire. In case it’s not clear, I’ll point out that the individuals that make the decision to hire the candidate do not attend any interviews in our department, do not attend the teaching demonstration or receive student feedback on the demonstration, and are not qualified or capable of considering the needs of the department in terms of specialization (i.e. we need a developmental biologist, not ANOTHER molecular biologist), or in terms of equipment and other resources available.

In other words, the future of the science department at my university, and I’d be willing to speculate at a large number of other universities is threatened by the totalitarian push for some kind of phony and irrelevant diversity. Student needs, needs of department, and the effect on the university take a back seat to the university administration being able to assert some meaningless statistic about the large number of demographics represented within the ranks of their administration, faculty, and student body.

Considering the lack of free speech, coddling of violent organizations, some of whom are actually affiliated with known terrorist organizations, and anti-American/anti-West/anti-Israel sentiment that exists on campus today, coupled with the administrations of many universities single-minded push to increase diversity, sending your child to college these days is, to quote Dennis Prager, “like playing Russian Roulette with their values.”

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