In my interactions with the administration, I realized that their commitment to supporting free speech would only be selectively and hypocritically enforced. When I was involved in pro-Israel life on campus, Jewish students were told by the administration that they should not refer to themselves as Zionists because this will “undermine dialogue” with Muslims on campus. On the other hand, student organizations like the Muslim Student Union which blatantly supported vile terrorists and promoted genocidal ideas against Israelis or “Zionist Jews” were perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the campus administration.
In the classroom, depending on a student’s major, the situation could also be worrisome. In certain classes I had to sit through ten minutes of anti-Bush comments at the start of class that took away precious time from analyzing text. While I certainly agree that it is important to critique our government and president, an English class which focuses on the writings of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift is not the time or place to opine about current events. When students in these courses complained or anonymously alerted the professor in early evaluations that his political comments were unnecessary, the professor would redouble his efforts and mention that “evil Republicans” are offended.
Unfortunately, students who aren’t ready to adopt the views of their professors find themselves tiptoeing around certain issues. English majors were obligated to take courses in Chicano studies and postmodernism. Rather than focusing our energies on the classics, we studied how gender is socially constructed and capitalist America is responsible for most of the ills in the world. When I wrote papers, I always made the most objective arguments possible so that I wouldn’t feel hypocritical about adopting anyone’s view and wouldn’t have my grade suffer either.
And yet, the absurdity of it all is how frighteningly easy it is to get an “A” so long as you read the work and present a well-written argument that a professor wouldn’t take offense to.
I would argue that the curriculum in colleges has been diluted. Instead of a focus on intelligent literature and encouraging free thinking, students will find themselves reading strange, poorly written postmodernist literature in the humanities. It becomes abundantly clear to many students that if they write what the teacher wants to read — no matter how horribly written it is — they’re still likely to do okay. If students laugh at the asinine anti-Bush and anti-Republican comments, the professor will smile with glee and appreciation.
In departments like political science and social science these problems are even more pronounced. For instance, one of the students who came forward during the Orange County Independent Task Force investigation described the campus climate as dominated by a philosophy that looks at the United States and Israel as enemies, while supporting terror organizations. The same student had a professor who had a picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on her computer. This student also recounts an argument with an Iranian student who said “f— Israel” and pulled down his trousers to show his swastika tattoo.
College institutions were initially created with the objective of fostering open, rich dialogue and free thought. Students shouldn’t have to avoid certain professors like the plague; nor should they adopt the positions of professors in order to make the grade. My personal college experience was spent defending my Israeli heritage, defending America, and trying to find those few professors who could actually teach. It shouldn’t be that way for me – or anyone else.