The Corner


We Can and Must Fight Back against Speech Intolerance on Campus

The campus of Yale University ( Benyapha Soomhirun/Getty Images)

For decades, the Left has pretty much had its way on our college campuses, particularly when it comes to speech. Administrators have been intimidated into giving in when our Red Brigades demand that people they dislike be silenced. Any absurd reason such as “he makes us feel unsafe” suffices.

The good news is that there is a counter-attack building.

One organization that is part of the counter-attack is the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), headed by Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill. In today’s Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins interviews her.

About BPC’s main project, she says, “The Campus Free Expression Project works with campus leaders to develop policies, programs, and curricula that make for a welcoming environment for robust intellectual exchange. We’re really concerned that colleges prepare students to be able to have conversations across principled disagreements and to work constructively with people with whom one might have a very different point of view. That’s why BPC was interested in starting this project and the spirit in which we’re undertaking this work.”

The main problem is that a sizable minority of students feel perfectly justified in launching nasty, often ad hominem attacks against anyone who dares disagree with them. As a consequence, a high percentage of students report that they are hesitant to speak up when controversial topics arise.

But BPC is working to change that. Pfeffer Merrill states that,”Ronald Crutcher, who just finished his term as president of the University of Richmond and serves on BPC’s Academic Leaders Task Force, hosted two series, the Sharp Viewpoint Series and “Spider Talks”— spiders are the mascot of the University of Richmond. Among the many speakers he hosted were pairs like Robby George and Cornel West, two scholars who are friends but who really disagree with one another, and who, in their conversations, model how people can have serious conversations with people who understand the world in a really different way.”

Good luck to BPC for challenging the thought police.

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


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