Wellesley Profs: No Controversial Ideas on Our Campus, Please
Hillary Clinton’s alma mater made headlines this week when a group of professors sent out an extraordinary email detailing their thoughts on how outside campus speakers should be chosen. Wellesley College faculty belonging to the Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity recommended a litany of criteria that, as critics have said, would severely curtail the spectrum of ideas that have a place on campus.
In the email, the faculty made the declaration that inviting controversial speakers to the Wellesley campus was an imposition on “the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley,” and forced them down the dark road of investing “time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments.”
Because if there’s one thing we don’t want our students to do, it’s think too much about their own beliefs. We want them to merely accept those beliefs as the truth; any ideas that could counteract those beliefs are dangerous and must be censored.
Do you think anyone at the Wellesley campus would care if the UFO club invited some kook to come talk about visitors from the planet Zulitron? Probably not, because no one’s concerned that Mr. Zulitron’s ideas will catch on. They’re absurd, and they can be seen as absurd by the vast majority of people. And those who can’t see the absurdity, well, there’s nothing you can do about those people, so there’s no point in worrying about it.
No, ideas are only scary when they force you to question what you currently believe. Colleges like to pretend that they are anti-indoctrination centers, there to expand the mind and break you out of the little world you grew up in. Maybe they were, at one point. Maybe they still are, in some ways.
But in just as many ways, they have just become another form of indoctrination. Maybe it is enlightening to see that some of the stuff you believed in wasn’t true. But did that make you free? Or did you just immediately begin believing in another story? One that may not be any more true than the old one…
At Wellesley, the professors were partially responding to a recent speaker, Laura Kipnis, who raised some controversial not-quite-the-kind-of-feminism-we-liberals-like issues like the “culture of sexual paranoia” gripping many college campuses.
From FIRE, which uncovered the email:
The committee recommends that those inviting any future speakers “consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups,” adding that the committee would be “happy to serve as a sounding board when hosts are considering inviting controversial speakers, to help sponsors think through the various implications of extending an invitation.” They also argue that “standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley.”
The left used to pride themselves on their commitment to free speech, and colleges used to pride themselves on the free exchange of intellectual ideas. Where that kind of liberalism has gone, we don’t know.
Maybe it was always a front.