A former adjunct associate professor at Syracuse University issued a scathing condemnation of academia after leaving his post over the university’s abandonment of free speech.
Stuart Card, who is also “a practicing engineer/entrepreneur,” wrote that the time he spent teaching was a net financial loss, but that he cherished “the privilege of helping students sharpen their critical thinking skills and prepare themselves to contribute to our world.”
When a video of fraternity brothers at Syracuse making disturbing and offensive remarks became public, the campus “descended within minutes into an orgy of political correctness,” wrote Card. The fraternity claims that the video captured a satirical skit and did not represent its members’ views, but this was largely ignored.
“Analysis of the videos or any other evidence was not encouraged; instead, discussion centered on how the revealed existence of the videos made some people feel,” Card continued.
While Card maintains that he does not presume to “judge guilt or innocence,” he lamented that “mob rule is the order of the day,” and that widespread hysteria made it impossible to give the fraternity and its members a fair hearing.
Following the incident, Card says he received a “mass email” from the university soliciting “faculty opinions and suggestions,” and that his one-paragraph response led to his departure from Syracuse.
“I strongly believe that reinforcing the current myth that individuals are likely to be damaged by exposure to expressions that they find offensive, and thus require pampering, is a disservice to our students and our profession,” he began.
“I know my view on this is out of sync with current opinion,” he conceded, but recalled how difficulties he encountered as a young person had “toughened” him and made him stronger, and argued that “coddling promotes weakness.”
Card concluded by telling the administration not to hire him as an adjunct professor anymore if it considered his views “so objectionable as to disqualify me from further service.”
According to Card, the administration replied that “misalignment between [his] values and those of the college” disqualified him from “continuing to teach SU students.”
Card said he was neither surprised nor upset, writing that he does not “feel wronged” or want his position back.
“SU is a private institution, free to choose its own beliefs, values, policies, procedures, and personnel,” he wrote. “I am likewise a private citizen and economic free agent, able and eager to make my own choices, based upon my own observations and analysis.”
He explained that because teaching was not his primary job, he was able to take a stand and face the consequences, but cautioned that other academics do not enjoy the same luxury.
“This is perhaps the most important point I wish to make: we all will have to deal with the consequences of all our choices,” he wrote, arguing that the university should not shield students from the real world.
“Formerly, freedom of conscience and speech were sacred in American universities,” but those values have now been replaced by an emphasis on being “broadly tolerant and inclusive… except of views that are ‘obviously wrong,’” Card lamented, saying “it is our fault they are so, as we have encouraged subjective emoting over objective thinking.”
“Now, we must create a ‘safe space’ in which our children can remain happily ignorant, soft, and unprepared for jobs and situations where economic and even physical threats will be much more substantial than ugly words,” he warned, later declaring that “We are tearing down the long proud intellectual traditions of western civilization, which made the United States of America one of the most productive, prosperous, safe, and free countries in history.”
Card concluded his statement with an appeal to those involved in academia, telling students and parents to demand critical thinking in the classroom while begging professors not to “sell out genuine learning (often involving debate) for a non-controversial path to tenure and advancement.”
“I write this brief statement to explain, to my coworkers and friends, the change in my academic status,” he explained, but it is also intended “as a warning: we are tearing down the long proud intellectual traditions of western civilization, which made the United States of America one of the most productive, prosperous, safe and free countries in history.”
Campus Reform did not receive a response from Syracuse University.
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First published at Campus Reform
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