This long article from Reason magazine is must reading. (H/T ECM)
The author, Greg Lukianoff, is the the president of FIRE (Foundation for individual Rights in Education).
Here are some of the scariest parts:
Other codes promise a pain-free world, such as Texas Southern University’s ban on attempting to cause “emotional,” “mental,” or “verbal harm,” which includes “embarrassing, degrading or damaging information, assumptions, implications, [and] remarks” (emphasis added). The code at Texas A&M prohibits violating others’ “rights” to “respect for personal feelings” and “freedom from indignity of any type.”
[…]Fordham, for example, prohibits using any email message to “insult” or “embarrass,” while Northeastern University tells students they may not send any message that “in the sole judgment of the University” is “annoying” or “offensive.”
[…]The University of Idaho bans “communication” that is “insensitive.” New York University prohibits “insulting, teasing, mocking, degrading, or ridiculing another person or group,” as well as “inappropriate…comments, questions, [and] jokes.” Davidson College’s sexual harassment policy still prohibits the use of “patronizing remarks,” including referring to an adult as “girl,” “boy,” “hunk,” “doll,” “honey,” or “sweetie.” It also bars “comments or inquiries about dating.”
[…]Until 2007 Western Michigan University’s harassment policy banned “sexism,” which it defined as “the perception and treatment of any person, not as an individual, but as a member of a category based on sex.” I am unfamiliar with any other attempt by a public institution to ban a perception, let alone perceiving that a person is a man or woman. Even public restrooms violate this rule, which may help explain why the university finally abandoned it.
[…]In fall 2008, a professor at Central Connecticut State University called the police on students who gave a presentation in his speech class arguing for the safety value of concealed carry.
And the conclusion is worth citing in full:
With all these examples of authoritarian bullying and systemic miseducation about rights, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that students are learning not only to accept censorship but to censor each other. Just before I completed this article, more than 10,000 copies of the official student newspaper for the University of Arizona were stolen and dumped by students who were upset about an article.
Newspaper theft is common on college campuses, with the most chilling examples culminating in public burnings. Students have burned other students’ newspapers at schools as prestigious as Cornell, Boston College, Dartmouth, and the University of Wisconsin. In 2008 multiple incidents were reported in which students destroyed pro-life students’ protest displays, including an incident at Missouri State University in which students smashed dozens of Popsicle-stick crosses and another at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in which a member of the student government tore up the crosses one by one in broad daylight. His defense: “Since [abortion] is a right, you don’t have the right to challenge it.”
When students come to believe that censoring rival points of view is not only permissible but laudable, the potential damage goes far beyond campus. Our colleges and universities produce our scientists, our business leaders, our lawyers, and our legislators. The habits formed in college inevitably seep into the other major social institutions.
In 1957 the U.S. Supreme Court said of the nation’s colleges, “Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.” The Court was right. The next generation needs to learn the practices of a free people. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t be surprised if, when it takes its turn to run our republic, values such as free speech and tolerance are treated like rusty, battered antiques: quaint, mysterious, and best kept in the basement.
FIRE is an important organization that I respect, and you should know about their work.