“this censoring species of activism for what it is: an assault on the foundational values of the university”
Starting this month, Brown University is hosting a lecture series on the importance of freedom of expression. Anyone who has been following news out of Rhode Island’s only Ivy League school for the last few years will appreciate the richness of that.
A Brown alum named Rob Montz described the situation in an op-ed at USA Today:
What happened to American universities?
On October 11, Brown University is hosting the first in a new series of lectures on the proper balance between “freedom of expression, tolerance, and inclusion” on college campuses.
It’s an appropriate venue. Over the last couple years, Brown students have sabotaged a lecture from former NYC police chief Ray Kelly, successfully pressured the campus newspaper to pull a controversial column about European colonialism, and set up a puppy-equipped safe space to escape a debate about rape culture.
While the series boasts some impressive speakers, including Yale law professor Robert Post and New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb, it’s unlikely to accomplish much. Administrators at Brown — like so many of their ivory tower counterparts — refuse to see this censoring species of activism for what it is: an assault on the foundational values of the university.
Indeed, it’s not clear Brown’s top brass see it as a threat at all. At its most recent commencement, one student speaker named Sabrina Imbler — handpicked by the administration — defended the activist outburst that killed the newspaper column as necessary to “defend our humanity.” And the school recently appointed to an associate deanship Professor Tricia Rose, who is known to prompt students to literally pledge allegiance to her politics….
Students are on a hair-trigger, eager to turn minor slights into examples of “structural” oppression and assume nefarious motives in critics. They regularly deploy an insidious rhetorical sleight-of-hand that equates the mental discomfort of hearing adverse opinions with real, physical violence. Those who question affirmative action, rape culture or other planks of the prevailing campus orthodoxy aren’t just wrong; they’re making the campus “unsafe.”
Montz produced a documentary earlier this year which we reviewed in July.
Here it is again, in case you missed it:
In terms of free expression at Brown, let’s take a walk down memory lane:
- Brown U. students shout down Ray Kelly
- Brown Prof apologizes for inviting Ray Kelly
- What it must be like to be a non- “extreme social justice” student at Brown
Perhaps Brown should host a lecture series that focuses on not shouting down lecturers before they venture into the deep end of the free speech pool.
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