News & Politics

Biggest Threat to Campus Free Speech? Students, Not Administrators

YouTube screenshot of students protesting after shutting down a lecture on Western civilization at Reed College.

Everywhere you turn on a college campus these days, you see administrators trying to silence folks they disagree with. These people are trying not only to kill academic freedom, but also to turn college campuses into nothing more than Leftist indoctrination centers.

But they don’t even compare to what Leftist students are doing on their own. From The College Fix:

The president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education tacitly admitted the work it’s doing to protect students from top-down punishment and chilling of their speech is a drop in the bucket compared to a larger cultural problem: students self-censoring out of fear of their peers.

Now, students at one college prevent an ACLU leader from speaking because the organization defends “white supremacists,” and students at another impose “ritual humiliation” on their president, she said, ordering him “put your hands down” when he’s responding to their racial grievances.

“The adults were much more in charge” 24 years ago when she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania during the “water buffalo” incident, which led to FIRE’s founding, McArdle said. Recent incidents at the College of William & Mary and Evergreen State College suggest “the adults seem to be afraid of the kids.”

When [Greg] Lukianoff started at FIRE in 2001, left-wing students “were the single best constituency for free speech” and had more common sense than their professors, he said. But he started noticing a change around 2013, two years before he and NYU’s Haidt published “The Coddling of the American Mind.”

The lunatics are running the asylum.

Unfortunately, this is the inevitable result of a society that no longer promotes the idea of natural rights. The Founding Fathers believed all of our rights came not from the government but from our very being, from our Creator. Today, we have news anchors who think that belief is too “fundamentalist.”

It’s only fundamentalist in that it’s the foundation of our nation — the definition of rights. Without that understanding, it becomes easy to trample on rights.

Now, some who claim to be conservatives are employing the Left’s tactics. They’re working to shut down controversial speakers, and are hopping up on stage during controversial plays. They’re doing it because it’s the only way they see to fight back.

Lukianoff is right. The biggest threat to free speech on campus isn’t the administrators, though they bear responsibility for not reminding students who is in charge. No, the biggest threat is the students of any persuasion who don’t understand rights as being inalienable to each individual.