Threats to Conservative Students
What are faculty and administrators doing about it?
Whether it is female Republican students at places like St. Olaf College and Cornell University being accosted, cursed at, threatened with physical violence and, in the latter case, actually assaulted; Cal State Fullerton Trump supporting students being assaulted by an instructor; a riot at Berkeley; or College Republicans being targeted by name as “fascists” and encouragements made to make their personal information public so that decent folks can “punch fascists”—bullying, intimidation, and threats of violence against conservative students have become staples of campus life.
While this phenomenon is an outrage in itself, equally outrageous is the fact that it has been permitted to occur and recur.
It’s inconceivable that college administrators and faculty would permit these outrages if white Republican conservative students were the perpetrators and their victims were, say, black, gay, or transgendered.
But because it is only conservative and moderate students who are being victimized by leftists, not only has no real action been initiated to stop these attacks. In some instances, faculty and administrators have even encouraged them.
In October of last year, the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) held a bake sale at the University of Texas that was designed to expose the moral dubiousness of “affirmative action.” Goods were sold to blacks and Hispanics for prices that were lower than those that whites and Asians were expected to pay.
Consequently, leftist students surrounded their display and shouted at them to remove it. One such student livestreamed the event on Facebook in a post titled, “Racists are live at UT.” It received nearly 230,000 views.
Eventually, students sporting black masks stole the bake sale menu and raided the inventory.
The Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, was the only administrator from UT to issue a formal response to the incident.
Vincent blamed the conservative students.
Their bake sale, he claimed, “create[d] an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty, and staff,” and their methods are “counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus” and “unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our [UT] community strives.”
Vincent didn’t deny that the Young Conservatives of Texas were exercising their right to express themselves. However, he declared that in doing so, they “resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others.”
At College of Charleston campus, in South Carolina, not only does faculty provide no support to conservative students who, at least since the election, have felt increasingly uneasy on campus and in their classes. Faculty is largely responsible for the apprehensiveness.
Rachel McKinnon is an instructor of philosophy and a self-identified “queer woman.” Immediately after the election, she used her class time to hold a “cry in” of sorts where she offered her grieving students comfort candy. McKinnon too was “shaken” by Trump’s victory. At one point she pounded her lectern and, in response to a student who tried assuring her that the South Carolina legislature would not permit the new administration to strip gays and the transgendered of their rights, condescendingly “snapped”: “Where do you think we are?”
Students and, in some cases, their parents, have been leveling complaints. One mother called the President’s office and suggested that McKinnon had a “mental breakdown” and was “silencing conservative students in class.”
McKinnon’s colleague Jon Hale, a history professor, organized a faculty meeting with the school’s provost, Brian McGee, to discuss the oppressive environment that was developing for…faculty.
According to a South Carolina newspaper, the Post and Courier, those present at the meeting sought to “challenge” McGee on his administration’s position on “academic freedom.” The Provost had sent an email to the deans and chairs of the school’s departments about complaints that his office had been receiving regarding the “inappropriately one-sided” and “crudely partisan” nature of class discussions. Another email sent to the whole college community insisted that “no matter the political divide, we must always be tolerant of each other’s views.”
A few weeks later, McGee announced the creation of a new on-line complaint system for students.
From the perspective of those who want for conservative students to be treated fairly, all of this sounds encouraging, and Provost McGee sounds like he deserves a tip of the hat. However, McGee assured concerned faculty that the complaint system was being implemented only because it was required by the school’s regional accrediting agency. It was “spectacularly bad timing” on his part, McGee confessed, to have announced the creation of this system when he did, for the timing of the announcement wrongly led faculty to think that the system was a response to complaints about their politicization of their class discussions.
Moreover, McGee assured faculty that his administration would protect them from any efforts on the part of the state Legislature to interfere with the manner in which they ran their classes.
The bullying, intimidation, and threats with which conservative students are confronted at present largely go unmet by administrators. It’s true that the latter not infrequently act like they plan on meeting future acts of aggression against heterodox students with strictness. They’ll pay the standard lip service to their schools’ “values” of tolerance, freedom of speech, and the like. Yet it is difficult to find many instances in which disciplinary action is meted out to offending parties, much less action that involves anything like expulsion or arrests.
Shortly after Charles Murray was prevented from speaking at Middlebury College by disruptive students, Jim Trent of National Review Online wrote: “What amazes me about these riots and near riots on college campuses is that no one seems to be doing anything about it.”
Indeed. There were professors present in the auditorium during Murray’s visit who said not a word to the unruly students who refused to allow the invited guest to speak.
At California State University-Los Angeles, a conservative students’ group on campus—Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)—arranged to have Ben Shapiro deliver a speech titled: “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.” The students received threats and insults from other students and faculty alike. In short, they were branded “white supremacists.”
Initially, the college charged them an astronomical fee for security, justifying the expenditure on the grounds that the presentation would be “controversial.” Then, the college cancelled it altogether, suggesting that it be replaced with a “more inclusive event.”
Too many college administrations and their faculty lack either the will or the ability to show equal concern for the safety of all of their students, irrespectively of their political orientations. Perhaps it’s time that they feel some pressure from the public and the government to do what is right.