Syndicated columnist George Will was scheduled to speak this year at Scripps College, a women’s liberal arts college located in Southern California. But his invitation was withdrawn after he published a column in June on feminism and sexual assault that angered many liberals.
“It was in the works and then it wasn’t in the works,” Will told the Claremont Independent, a student newspaper. “They didn’t say that the column was the reason, but it was the reason.”
Will’s visit to campus would have taken place later this academic year, as part of a program meant to add diversity to campus by bringing conservatives in for guest lectures. According to the Independent, Scripps College has no registered Republicans on its faculty. So far, no replacement speaker has been named to take Will’s place.
In the column, Will accused the academic left of watering down the definitions of sexual assault, and exaggerating the number of victims on campus. He also argued that progressives were exaggerating the campus assault crisis, and politicizing it, in order to increase governmental control on university campuses. (Heather Mac Donald made a similar argument recently in an essay published here at National Review.)
Will’s column gained so much negative attention that a group of 12 U.S. Senators found time in their busy schedule to sign a letter denouncing it. Will responded with a letter of his own, arguing that it was the Senators, in fact, who weren’t taking sexual assault seriously.
“I think I take sexual assault much more seriously than you,” he wrote. ”Which is why I worry about definitions of that category of that crime that might, by their breadth, tend to trivialize it. And why I think sexual assault is a felony that should be dealt with by the criminal justice system, and not be adjudicated by improvised campus processes.”
It’s a safe bet that those are the kinds of opinions one would normally be very unlikely to hear at an all-women’s college that lacks a single Republican faculty member. No doubt Will’s planned visit to campus would have brought precisely the sort of lively debate and ideological diversity the speaker series was designed go facilitate.
Unfortunately, it appears that the young women of Scripps College will be deprived of any chance to hear George Will explain his views in person, now that his speaking invitation has been revoked.
Perhaps officials at Scripps College believe that diversity of opinion is something they and their students just can’t handle.