March 6, 2018

WALTER OLSON: Yale and the Puritanism of ‘Social Justice:’ Ditching class to protest won’t count against you—at least if the university approves of the cause.

Yale says it will overlook walkouts “for this or other causes.” To test that, an applicant might engage in a peaceful walkout for a cause of which the admissions staff disapproves—say, Second Amendment rights. But what high schooler would want to be that test case?

The issue is of principle, not law: As a private university, Yale is not subject to the First Amendment and need not guarantee applicants a neutral forum. It can set what standards it pleases, including screening out students who march for a not-Yale cause. By contrast, administrators in public high schools are barred from playing favorites, so they can’t approve or disapprove peaceful walkouts based on whether or not they approve of the cause.

That being said, Yale started out as a base for the training of Puritan clergy. One wonders whether it has really changed all that much.

When it serves their purposes, universities purport to worry about political stuff affecting their 501(c)(3) status. When it doesn’t, they don’t.