Saint Vincent College Has Meltdown After Frank Discussion About Race in America
“Saint Vincent president Father Paul R. Taylor denounced the conference and apologized to students”
This is one of the main reasons taxpayers should not be expected to fund ‘free’ college. Most schools don’t even have free speech.
Mike Sabo writes at Real Clear Education:
Free Speech Under Fire at Saint Vincent College
The opportunity to speak freely and openly – especially on controversial topics – is a cornerstone of civic education. But events that unfolded after the “Politics, Policy, and Panic: Governing in Times of Crisis” conference at Saint Vincent College demonstrate that freedom of speech at America’s institutions of higher education continues to stand on shaky footing.
Organized and hosted by Bradley C. S. Watson, director of the Center for Political and Economic Thought, the conference featured nine speakers, including former Trump White House science advisor Scott Atlas, political scientist Wilfred Reilly, and Johnny Burtka, president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Over the span of two days, participants discussed a broad range of issues relating to the breakdown of public institutions and politics in the United States.
In a presentation provocatively titled “Black Privilege and Racial Hysteria in America,” Hillsdale College assistant professor David Azerrad argued against treating Americans differently due to their race. “I denounced all forms of preferential treatment for black Americans,” Azerrad said later about his talk, “and defended the core American principles of meritocracy and the rule of law – that is, the idea that desirable positions in the private sector should be awarded on the basis of competence and not skin color, and that all Americans should be equal before the law.”
Students vigorously debated Azerrad’s opinions, and he responded in turn. Conference participant Jacob Howland wrote of Azerrad’s presentation: “His frankness, precision, and patience in dealing with strongly worded objections and emotionally charged audience questions modeled a combination of intelligence, courage, and commitment to teaching and learning rarely found in academia.”
Since then, however, St. Vincent College has taken a series of actions that Watson calls “very disturbing.”
Letters by Gary Quinlivan, CPET’s co-director, and Saint Vincent president Father Paul R. Taylor denounced the conference and apologized to students. Quinlivan contended that Azerrad’s talk “may be interpreted as a form of invidious discrimination which inherently degrades the sanctity of human life.” The college initially prohibited the publication of all presentations, though a complete playlist was published on YouTube a few days later.
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So St. Vincent’s president deems a talk denouncing discrimination as being a “form of invidious discrimination.” First, I would have say this is exactly the scenario in “1984”: war is peace, freedom is slavery, etc. Second I would have to say that when someone deems A to be not-A, that person is bat-shit crazy and needs to be in an insane asylum, not the president of a college.
Did anyone ask if students with real majors were offended in the first place?
Pre-censorship – to shield an audience from “harmful ideas” is anathma to higher education. However, the rules are less clear regarding post-event publication of the conference proceedings. Suppose I present a paper that is full of math errors, illogical reasoning, faulty data, etc. At the conference, my deficiencies are plain to all. Should my paper be included in the conference proceedings? I think the sponsoring college has the right to step in at that point.
The trouble is when I have an academically solid argument that is well-presented, but the President of the college finds my ideas offensive and disagrees with them. He is misrepresenting his objections to fit into the earlier bucket.
So, publishing a paper in a conference proceeding is a privilege, not a right. However, editorial control must be exercised in a fair and non-ideological way. If the President prevails, I would urge the presenters to publish their work elsewhere.
St. Vincent’s commitment to squelshing the free exchange of ideas is no secret. It is found clearly stated in their “Multicultural Student Life” statement.
“More specifically, we pride ourselves on our commitment to educating students and promoting the importance of equity and diversity through programs and mentorship.”
That importance of equity and diversity basically excludes any discussion, presentation, class work that questions or challenges this commitment.
No light must shine on the failings of these principles. Which is exactly what Azzerad did. You have to understand with these people a difference of opinion and logically defending that opinion is not healthy debate in a free thinking society. It is a personal attack. Proof you want to cause great physical and emotional harm to them. It must be stopped. In a grown up world Father Taylor would have given them all lollies and sent them away. Unfortunately Seminaries have much to answer for in their development of priestly vocations.
Sorry for double post. I did not mean for this to be a reply. If the page guardians would delete the above I would be grateful.
I found the “absolute hierarchy” doctrine in the Catholic Church to be stultifying and more than just hypothetically dangerous. I realized this at an early age, when I was forced to respect two diametrically opposed ethics imposed upon us by two independent but peered religious leaders, with no resolution available. Realizing I was a pawn in a mug’s game forced me to begin to think independently.
Later on in life, I resonated with George H. Smith’s thesis that western civilization developed the tremendous comparative intellectual advantage (that birthed both classical liberalism and the Industrial Revolution) from a variation of this tension, between peered but independent church and state rulers — unlike other civilizations, where the secular and religious spheres were routinely driven by the same individual (god-emperors, mullahs, or whatever).
Steps St. Vincent will immediately take (from the letter of the President):
● A formal speaker’s policy for all public presentations sponsored by the College. The President and Cabinet members will now approve all sponsored speakers to make sure that the message to be delivered is not in conflict with the spirit and Mission of the College.
So only preapproved presentations will be allowed (read it: far leftist speakers only). Che t-shirts optional.
● Immediate structural changes at the Center for Political and Economic Thought, so that it reports directly to Dr. Jeff Mallory, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the College. He will also undertake a review and assessment of policies and procedures.
A Soviet style “political officer” will oversee the Center, which will immediately have the word “thought” removed from its title.
● We have organized a public forum to ensure our student community has the opportunity to express their viewpoints in an open and transparent exchange.
Note to president of the college: you just did. You didn’t like the open and transparent part. This forum will chill free speech at the college so the snowflakes can survive.
So freaking reactive, these people.
Thank you for linking to the playlist. I look forward to listening to this talk, which currently has 13k views (while most of the other talks are under 1k views).