November 30, 2021

AWAKENING A SLEEPING GIANT – ALUMNI. From today’s Wall Street Journal, probably paywalled (but very important), a story about alumni organizing to take their campuses back from the censors.

Two years ago Cornell University asked a California real-estate developer and longtime donor for a seven-figure contribution.

Carl Neuss didn’t write the check immediately, saying he was worried about what he saw as liberal indoctrination on campus and declining tolerance toward competing viewpoints.

To allay Mr. Neuss’s concerns, the development office introduced him to some politically moderate professors, he said. The attempt backfired. The professors, he said, told him they felt humiliated by the diversity training they were required to attend and perpetually afraid they would say something factual—but impolitic.

Cornell has 1,695 faculty members and this was its best foot forward on free speech to an important donor. That speaks volumes. Later in the story:

In 2018, alumni at Washington and Lee University in Virginia launched an organization called the Generals Redoubt after they felt the school began disassociating itself from President George Washington—who endowed the school, and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a former school president. Both men owned slaves. …

Washington and Lee President Will Dudley said the debate has placed universities unfairly in the crossfire.

“We’re living in an environment where people on both sides, right and left, are engaged in a culture war and they want to use universities,” he said. “I don’t find that beneficial to our mission and I’m not interested in being a participant in it.”

Universities have been waging a one-way culture war on free speech, due process, and other fundamental rights (along with many other things) for decades. They don’t get to pretend they’re not part of it when the other side finally starts firing back.

And if you’re an alumnus who wants to join the movement, please, take a moment to join FIRE’s (nascent) Alumni Network or reach out to the good folks at the Alumni Free Speech Alliance so we can put you in touch with like-minded folks from your own alma mater. 20 groups are out there already, and there is interest from many more.

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