The Corner


How to Deal with Campus Protests

Wild and sometimes violent protests by students who claim they’re advancing “progressive” causes have become common on our college campuses. Sometimes the kiddies even demand that academic schedules be relaxed so that their “work” won’t be interrupted. Often, campus officials have acted like deer in the headlights when faced with such protests.

The University of North Carolina has, however, apparently learned a few things about dealing with student protests, and in today’s Martin Center article, “Standing Athwart Social Justice Protests,” Jay Schalin and Shannon Watkins discuss the administration’s responses. The school’s administrators have learned from past embarrassments like the riot when Representative Tom Tancredo spoke several years ago (well, tried to speak anyway).

Schalin and Watkins look at three recent campus protests (against Sebastian Gorka, against the “Silent Sam” statue, and a public forum regarding Silent Sam) and write that they were for the most part trouble-free:

Despite the protesters’ oft-excessive passion, they did not interrupt Gorka’s speech, the Silent Sam protest, or the public forum. Indeed, it seems that the university’s newly implemented free speech policy has so far proven to be effective: Participants at both the public forum and within the auditorium where Gorka spoke were warned that anyone who substantially interrupted the event would be subject to university disciplinary action and possible arrest, and would be escorted out of the building.

Establish clear rules and the intention to enforce them — what a concept.

Another sensible precaution UNC takes is to limit attendance to enrolled students, thereby keeping out the Antifa thugs who delight in violence.

Also, the school has used undercover police to monitor the activities of the social-justice-warrior zealots.

Schalin and Watkins make it clear that the looniness of the protesters’ rhetoric is not diminishing in the least. They inform us, for example, that a medical student wants the Silent Sam statue removed because it endangers students’ health. They quote the student as saying,

The continual presence of this monument on campus is a threat to the safety and well-being of students and that it is dangerous to public health . . . multiple research studies have shown that exposure to racism . . . causes physiological harm on the body. Blood pressure rises [and] stays elevated throughout the day. This isn’t a matter of hurt feelings; this is very literally as serious as a heart attack.

So merely seeing a bit of metal is “literally as serious as a heart attack”? Good grief.

Worse than such silliness is the still prevalent attitude among SJW students that violence is justified against people they regard as Nazis.

The authors conclude:

UNC-Chapel Hill should be applauded for taking precautions to prevent violence — while, at the same time, protecting students’ right to free speech and giving them a forum to air grievances. Still, the school must remain vigilant and administrators must firmly hold their ground and avoid the temptation to capitulate to the protesters’ excessive demands.

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


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