I attended a public university back in the 1970s. At that time, I saw how liberalism was already creeping into that university. While the university, then and now, boasts of teaching students to be open minded and free thinking, I saw back then that many professors did their best to suppress any views that opposed their own.
My major was wildlife and fisheries management, which required more degree-required courses than any other liberal arts degree at that time. Most of the required courses were science courses. In some of those courses, I saw the inconsistencies and impossibilities of the evolutionary theory they were teaching as fact. When I questioned some of these issues, the professors reacted negatively. Several profs told me to shut up or I would fail their class. In one class, on the first day of class with a professor I didn’t know, when he called my name while taking role, he asked me to raise my hand. When he saw who I was, he told me that if I opened my mouth in his class he would fail me.
At the same university, I had an English professor fail me on an essay assignment because my political views differed from hers. I challenged the grade with the head of the English department and won, but that English prof had it out for me the rest of the class.
Over the last decade, the issue of free speech on college and university campuses has been greatly censored. Here are a few examples:
In 2015, a group of students at Amherst College calling themselves Amherst Uprising issued a list of demands given to university President Biddy Martin. One of those demands wants Martin to issue a statement that the university does not tolerate the actions of students who recently held up signs reading All Lives Matter and Free Speech. The signs and posters for free speech were referring to what recently happened at the University of Missouri.
Another demand made by Amherst Uprising demanded that the school use the disciplinary process against students who handed out free speech fliers. They also demanded that the university force these students to go through ‘extensive training for racial and cultural competency.’
A week earlier, students at the Mizzou and Yale protested that the administrations weren’t taking the actions on issues like race that the students believe should have been taken. Alan Dershowitz, a retired Harvard law professor referred to the students as book burners. He described the situations on the two campuses as ‘the fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities.’
In 2016, North Carolina State University instituted a policy requiring a person, persons or group to obtain a permit to conduct any kind of speech or communication anywhere on campus. The problem is that it seems no one else has been shut down for not having a permit like what happened to Grace Christian Life.
If you visit the university’s website and click on Mission, scroll down to where it lists NC State Values:
Integrity—in the pursuit, creation, application, and dissemination of knowledge
Freedom—of thought and expression
Respect—for cultural and intellectual diversity”
Freedom? Not hardly if a conservative or Christian needs a special permit to exercise their First Amendment right of free speech. Sadly, the same thing has been happening on other campuses. Some have created free speech zones, a small remote location on campus where free speech is allowed, but then only after obtaining permission from college officials.
However, the University of Arizona in Tucson has gone one step further on the road to fascism and violating the rights of students. According to a May 2017 report:
“Administrators at the University of Arizona are now accepting applications for ‘social justice advocates,’ whose job it is to snitch on other students accused of bias. They’re also expected to hold educational programs about “the mosaic of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusivity” and maintain ‘social justice bulletin boards’ in student residence halls.”
“The job, which officially calls (archived link) for the advocates to ‘report any bias incidents or claims to appropriate Residence Life staff,’ pays the student workers $10 an hour. They’re expected to work 15 hours a week, which means they could be making as much as $600 a month to police their fellow students.”
“Part of the job description reads:”
“‘The position also aims to increase understanding of one’s own self through critical reflection of power and privilege, identity and intersectionality, systems of socialization, cultural competency and allyship as they pertain to the acknowledgement, understanding and acceptance of differences. Finally, this position intends to increase a student staff member’s ability to openly lead conversations, discuss differences and confront diversely insensitive behavior’.”
Don’t forget that ‘social justice’ is the politically correct term for socialism. Knowing that most Americans instantly rebel against any notion of socialism, they coined the term ‘social justice’ to make it sound more acceptable. It means the exact same thing as socialism.
This position created at the University of Arizona was nothing more than a position to restrict and trample on the First Amendment rights of conservative and Christian students. They’ll allow racial and gay activists to speak their mind, but let a conservative or Christian try to speak their mind and the new socialist police will descend on them like lions on a gazelle.
Sadly, the socialist teaching of students that begins as early as kindergarten and first-grade have influenced many students on the concept of the First Amendment right of free speech.
The Brookings Institution, a non-profit policy organization located in Washington DC, decided to find out how college students feel about the First Amendment right of free speech and if they think it is acceptable to exhort to violence to prevent conservatives from speaking on campuses.
As reported by John Villasenor, with Brookings:
“College students’ views of the First Amendment are of profound importance for multiple reasons. First, colleges and universities are places where intellectual debate should flourish…”
“College students’ views on the First Amendment are important for another reason as well: Students act as de facto arbiters of free expression on campus. The Supreme Court justices are not standing by at the entrances to public university lecture halls ready to step in if First Amendment rights are curtailed. If a significant percentage of students believe that views they find offensive should be silenced, those views will in fact be silenced…”
“The survey results establish with data what has been clear anecdotally to anyone who has been observing campus dynamics in recent years: Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on U.S. campuses. In fact, despite protestations to the contrary (often with statements like ‘we fully support the First Amendment, but…)’, freedom of expression is clearly not, in practice, available on many campuses, including many public campuses that have First Amendment obligations.”
Today, a number of colleges and universities have created free speech zones for conservatives and Christians to use. However, the zones are generally no more than an 8-foot patch of ground located in an obscure part of the campus and then one has to still obtain permission to speak freely from the same campus authorities who restrict speech elsewhere on campus.
The growing censorship and punishment of free speech on college and university campuses has prompted President Donald Trump to take action and sign an executive order. In signing the order, Trump stated:
“We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values. They’ve been under siege.”
“Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today…”
“Even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and the First Amendment.”
How will this order help restore free speech to campuses? Fox News reported:
“A senior administration official said the order directs 12 grant-making agencies to use their authority in coordination with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure institutions that receive federal research or education grants promote free speech and free inquiry. White House officials have said it will apply to more than $35 billion in grants.”
“Public universities seeking funding would have to certify they comply with the First Amendment, which already applies to them. Private universities, which have more flexibility in limiting speech, would need to commit to their own institutional rules.”
It seems in today’s culture, the only way to force liberals to comply with the Constitution and laws is to cut off their money or threaten to cut it off. Without federal funding and grants, many colleges and universities could not offer the degrees and programs they do offer, so maintaining federal funding is critical.
Chances are, some liberal judge will block Trump’s executive order and force Trump to take it to the Supreme Court, just to force compliance with the Constitution.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.