The president of Macalester College’s free speech manifesto simply reinforces the determination to preserve the campus’ Leftist intellectual monoculture.
At PJ Media, you can read about a lawsuit that a free speech organization has launched against the University of Michigan (which is a public university). As I read it, Michigan’s rule is that all campus speech is judged by its subjective effect on the most sensitive flower on campus — and we all know that those sensitive flowers are invariably hard Leftists:
As the lawsuit says, the university has created an “elaborate investigatory and disciplinary apparatus to suppress and punish speech other students deem ‘demeaning,’ ‘bothersome,’ or ‘hurtful’.” Yes, really: The student disciplinary code defines “harassment” as any “unwanted negative attention perceived as intimidating, demeaning, or bothersome to an individual” (emphasis added).
In other words, as the complaint says, “the most sensitive student on campus effectively dictates the terms under which others may speak.” Under this absurd but dangerous policy, a student expressing his positive opinion about Donald Trump could be considered “bothersome” to the many (or any of the) liberal students on campus.
It’s not better at private universities — except that they think they’re insulated from lawsuits because they’re private. Exhibit A is the the Macalester alumni magazine that I spirited away from my friend once I saw how the Macalester president, Brian Rosenberg, addressed the free speech issue. What’s fascinating is that Rosenberg pays lip service to the notion of free speech, only to make it clear that he will ban anyone who offends a student or promotes non-Progressive ideas.
To reach this end, Rosenberg establishes, repeatedly, that Macalester is a private campus, giving him a fair amount of leeway in making decisions about acceptable speech:
The nature of the question is different for public and private college campuses. Most public campuses are subject to the rules that govern public property and are therefore bound to a very expansive understanding of free speech. Private colleges are private property and have more latitude to establish, should they so choose, narrower limits on free speech. Put simply, a person’s free speech rights do not extend to the right to post a sign on the lawn of your home.
I agree that private colleges are subject to different speech constraints — and I suggest that, to make entirely clear Macalester’s status as a private college, Macalester should return any public monies it receives in whatever forum it receives them (student financial aid, department grants, etc.). I can’t find the numbers, but I suspect they’re significant.
Because Macalester is private, says Rosenberg, the only real constraint is “What is most likely to create an environment conducive to teaching and learning?” You won’t be surprised to learn that after several paragraphs about valuing free speech, and not allowing people to be too sensitive, he gets down to the nitty-gritty, which is that people are allowed to be as sensitive as they want, and he’ll protect them: [Read more…]