“Today’s students recoil at the first hint of contention and demand insulation from controversial ideas.”
Rikki Schlott is an undergrad at New York University. She recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Post in which she describes her efforts to defend free speech on campus.
Freedom of speech is endangered on college campuses — and I’m fighting back
From the moment I stepped foot on campus at NYU three years ago, I’ve been taught that there is right-think and wrong-think. Everywhere I look, professors, administrators and peers all fervently parrot the same beliefs.
I have sat through orientation events that were highly politicized, assuming “community values” of radical progressivism — values I don’t share.
On the first day of the semester, a professor blatantly disparaged conservative politicians and their supporters as uneducated and ignorant. Even Mayor de Blasio intervened in October of 2018 to prevent right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking to a class of about 25 freshmen about political correctness after the campus erupted in outrage and Antifa threatened to shut down the event.
My experience is not unique. Across the nation, professors are espousing their own views at the lectern and thrusting politicized curricula upon students, teaching them what to think rather than how to think. Meanwhile, speech codes, safe spaces, trigger warnings and the conflation of speech with violence have all had a discernibly chilling effect on campus discourse. NYU identification cards even prominently display a bias report hotline to report any instances of offense. The resulting fear of saying the wrong thing or being behind on the latest political lingo is palpable.
Professors around the country now record their lectures as a safeguard against accusations of bias. Others provide exhaustive trigger warnings about anything that could be construed as even vaguely controversial. Students preface their points with, “I don’t mean to be offensive, but …” (for the record, they almost never are).
Today’s students recoil at the first hint of contention and demand insulation from controversial ideas. But, in the process of bubble-wrapping themselves, they undermine the very purpose of their education: the exploration of self that is paramount to intellectual maturity.
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