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:
- Polls show more than 60% of Americans approve of restricting speech and 51% want to change the First Amendment
- Almost 60% of individuals between the ages of 21 and 38 say that the Constitution, “goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America,” and 54% said violators of “hate speech” should face jail time
- The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that more than 50% of students want to see educational institutions restrict “intolerant opinions”
- A recent Gallup poll shows only 38% of people are extremely proud to be Americans
- Axios reported 61% of those between the ages of 18 to 24 have a positive view of socialism, and 55% of women would rather live in a socialist country
- A Washington Post/University of Maryland study found that 36% of Americans are not proud of how democracy works in the United States
- 70% of millennials say they are likely to vote socialist
- Only 57% of millennials believe that the Declaration of Independence provides more freedom and equality than the Communist Manifesto
- 1 in 3 millennials has a favorable view of communism
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.
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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.