What if someone at Yale had asked, “Would it be insensitive if I put on a Charles Koch mask for Halloween? Would I need to first provide a safe space for students and faculty members who believe that the Koch brothers are the worst of people?”
Lots of academics are wringing their hands, terrified at the effects of money from donors like the Kochs. “It’s a threat to academic freedom,” they wail.
Clemson professor C. Bradley Thompson argues in this Minding the Campus essay that it’s much ado about nothing. Thompson writes, “I publicly challenge the critics of these donations to name one faculty member anywhere in America whose academic freedom has been threatened by these grants.”
The griping about academic freedom, Thompson maintains, is merely cover for the desire of many professors to keep non-socialistic ideas away their campuses. “Those opposing these programs hope to cow administrators from accepting similar donations in the future; to rally liberal faculty to actively oppose these programs, and most of all, to perpetuate the ideological monopoly currently held by the Left on America’s college campuses. In other words, it’s all about power and ideology.”
Where the funding for an academic program comes from (and Thompson notes that leftists fund many programs) ought to be irrelevant. The intellectual integrity of any program depends on its content, not on whether funding for it was provided by supposedly benevolent leftists, supposedly evil right-wingers, or by squeezing money from taxpayers. Ideas stand or fall on their own merits.