Our colleges and universities are meant to be open to the free exchange of ideas, a place where our opinions and beliefs can be challenged but in an atmosphere of mutual respect, not a fascistic bastion that disallows honest debate.
A marketplace of ideas must not include so-called safe spaces.
But how can we stop these outrageous behaviors and regain control of our institutions of higher learning? One way is to appoint thoughtful presidents and administrators who are committed to academic freedom.
And we are beginning to see signs of change, though they are small in number. At the University of Chicago, as the school welcomed new students to start the academic year, the Dean of Students warned them in a letter that they could expect no “safe spaces” or “trigger warnings” on campus, because of the school’s commitment to academic freedom.
Another and perhaps more useful way begins with the state legislatures, which have the power, through the purse strings, to step in to correct institutions.
Universities could see their budgets affected if they continue to suppress free speech and selectively protect students. Our institutions of higher learning are not beyond correction, nor do they possess the status of a “state within a state,” making them untouchable by the hand of the people’s elected representatives.
Though legislators are rightly hesitant to micromanage universities, should they continue to cultivate a culture of hostility towards free expression, active intervention is necessary, especially when it involves the use of taxpayer funds. Oversight then is not only ethical but also imperative.