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Stanford University’s move to put Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tirien Steinbach on leave was a step in the right direction after she brazenly attacked U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Fifth Circuit Kyle Duncan for nearly eight minutes. Dean Steinbach had a fundamental responsibility as an administrator to uphold the university’s ideals, including its unwavering commitment to free speech and independent thought.
Although the university’s response sends a clear message that such behavior from an administrator will not be tolerated, it falls short of addressing the larger issue plaguing college campuses across the nation. By allowing students to evade accountability for their own misconduct, Stanford condones the self-righteous student mobs asserting that only their viewpoints are valid.
For nearly 15 years, Campus Reform has been relentlessly exposing the disturbing trend on college campuses that aims to suppress free speech and critical thinking, despite the fact that these institutions were once revered as the foremost champions of these values.
In the late 80s, colleges began to push speech codes, but these restrictions were widely expanded in the 2000s and continue to rise each year. In addition to these codes, students, faculty, and administrators organized and collaborated to ban influential figures from campuses whose messages deviated from the mob — particularly conservative speakers. Because of the minimal resistance from most colleges, the students discovered that the louder and more aggressive they become, the more likely administrators would surrender to their demands.
As these totalitarian efforts increased, so has anti-American sentiment on college campuses and reasonable positions are demonized. The effort to rewrite our history is fueling this anti-Americanism causing many students to have little regard for the concepts of liberty, including the First Amendment. Consider these numbers:
To address these pressing issues, colleges must adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards those who undermine free speech and critical thinking. It is imperative that these institutions take a proactive and comprehensive approach to confront this problem directly.
I am proud to say my students have never stooped to such disgraceful behavior. In my 17 years of teaching, my students have been exemplary in their graciousness and attentiveness towards speakers. When Economist Paul Krugman gave a lecture at the college, I encouraged my students to attend despite my fundamental disagreement with his views. Many did and they showed him the utmost respect. I wouldn’t have tolerated anything else and that’s the standard educators like me and Dean Steinbach must set for students.
Although protests can be a powerful means of expressing dissent, any student who is unable to maintain civility and self-control, particularly towards visiting speakers, does not possess the maturity required for a college education. Moreover, if faculty members and administrators endorse or participate in such behavior, they are unfit to continue serving on college campuses. To restore colleges to their former status as hubs of free speech and critical thinking, it is essential to establish accountability and take decisive action to address this issue.
Nicholas Giordano is a political science professor at Suffolk Community College and a Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.