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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

College divide: Ideas or ‘justice’?

Middlebury students shouted down sociologist Charles Murray, accusing him of being a white supremacist.

The divide on elite college campuses separates defenders of “the free exchange of ideas” from those who see “inclusivity and social justice as the supreme value,” writes Allison Stanger, the Middlebury professor injured in a mob attack on Charles Murray.

A political scientist, Stanger wanted to ask Murray “tough questions on both the controversial Bell Curve, in which he partly blames genetics for test score differences among races, and his most recent book, Coming Apart,” she writes. But the event was shut down by protesters “lest the ensuing dialogue inflict pain on the marginalized.”

Conservatives and moderates are marginalized on campus, writes Stanger, who identifies herself as a liberal.

Students have expressed fear that they are not allowed to disagree with their professors, who might punish them with lower grades. . . . The moderate middle at Middlebury currently feels it cannot speak out on the side of free inquiry without fear of being socially ostracized as racist. Most alarming, I have heard some students and faculty denounce reason and logic as manifestations of white supremacy. This is not a productive learning environment for anyone.

More than 100 Middlebury faculty members signed a statement of principles on free inquiry and asked the college to adopt a free-speech statement, she writes. (Many also signed the statement on freedom of expression by Robert P. George and Cornel West.)

A group of students countered with Broken Inquiry, which makes it clear they haven’t read Murray’s work, writes Stanger. The statement defends students’ “right to peacefully disrupt what they see as injustice” and calls for “moving away from an imbalanced, disconnected dialogue and towards the collective establishment of core values at Middlebury.”

“The university cannot renounce enlightenment values and continue to be a university,” concludes Stanger. “It must be a battleground for competing ideas.”

Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops, was shouted down at Claremont McKenna College.

Wichita State University Student Government Association refused to recognize a libertarian student group,  Young Americans for Liberty, because its leader defended free speech, reports FIRE.

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