The Corner

Politics & Policy

Another Campus Outrage — or Much Ado about Nothing?

There are so many campus outrages these days that it’s easy to credit each and every report — but we shouldn’t.

A few weeks ago, there was a story circulating to the effect that a professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina was suggesting to students that violence against conservatives was okay. It turned out, however, that there was a perfectly innocent explanation.

In today’s Martin Center article, political-science professor George Ehrhardt, who was at the center of the story, sets the record straight.

He writes, “Over the weekend, a student in my team-taught course had objected — actually, his friend’s mother had objected — to a survey he had taken for class that seemingly advocated killing Republicans, and she reported it to a Townhall.com writer. He produced this story about a survey conducted at Appalachian State, which briefly went viral. Several days after it was posted, a friend even forwarded it to me with an angry call to defund the UNC system, totally unaware that it had happened in my class. The controversy reached the UNC Board of Governors and our chancellor.”

There may be good reasons to defund the UNC system, but this isn’t one of them.

Ehrhardt (a conservative) and another poli-sci prof (a leftist) were team-teaching a course, and they wanted students to take a survey on political attitudes posted by Professor Jonathan Haidt, of Heterodox Academy fame. But one student took a different survey available on the same site, one that asked if the respondent felt that violence against Republicans was justified. Neither App State professor even wanted the students to take that survey, much less were advocating violence.

Ehrhardt rightly concludes, “While there are certainly many things those of us on the Right can and should critique about contemporary higher education, we need to keep our powder dry for those things which are really worth critiquing.”

Indeed so.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.