We discussed student editors and student government leaders who use their positions to take revenge against other students’ freedom of speech with the support of faculty. This trend is hardly surprising, given that the deans of journalism are calling for censorship and the professors of journalism are calling for the media to be against neutrality. Universities have generally remained passive as students and faculties harass and punish those with opposing views. The most recent example of this type was detailed in a column on the College Fix website, showing Cornell University students ousting student advocates who voted against the disarming and de-funding of campus police. What concerns me most is the university’s silence about the controversy.
According to the report, the students did not pass a resolution calling for the Cornell Police Department to be deprived and disarmed. After the measure failed, the student leaders demanded the removal of opposing leaders from the committees or the entire student government. Uchenna Chukwukere, Vice President of the Student Assembly for Finance, said
“These 15 student assembly members watched as we poured our trauma and fears on the floor, practically asking them to vote no, and eventually sent a message to the university that we can no longer allow these oppressive institutions to join us hold down. Many of these members of the congregation are white men and women who literally laughed and danced in our faces when the resolution failed. Their faces can be seen everywhere on social media. We will never forget. Your career on campus is over. … We need to disarm, defuse, and disband the Cornell University Police Department. “
After a series of failed votes, the student organizers were finally able to pass Resolution 30 and demand that the campus police be disarmed with two votes.
Dakota Johnson, a student, a veteran of the Navy, told of a confrontation with a government leader in which he was allegedly told, “As a white man, you cannot be the arbiter of what is racist and what is not, and who is good or bad is. … You will never be the referee because you are a white man. “
The question is the responsibility of universities when students use their positions to deny the freedom of speech of other students or to punish those who hold opposing views. Faculties’ ad administrators have been conspicuously silent as both freedom of speech and academic freedom have been attacked in recent years. It is a shameful failure to protect core values of science. Many fear that they will next be targeted by campaigns like the one against the students at Cornell. This silence has continued even when faculties are persecuted for their views or writings. We have discussed these cases across the country, including similar efforts to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago and efforts at Harvard to appeal to a leading academic. It’s part of a wave of intolerance that is gripping our colleges and newsrooms – a campaign marked by the loss of academic freedoms and freedom of speech.
Even if we don’t protect our colleagues, we have a duty to protect the students who come to our campus to learn and develop their own views and values. This includes protecting them from being formally punished or repressed for their points of view. If we do not fight for them and their rights, we are detached from any principle other than our personal progress and security.