Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) president Everett Piper will receive the Kirkpatrick Award for Academic Freedom at the Ronald Reagan Banquet at CPAC Friday evening following his strong message to members of the university community that they have come to the Christian school to be exposed to adversarial ideas, not protected from them.
As colleges and universities across the country have experienced upheaval over controversial ideas – some encouraged by groups such as Black Lives Matter – Piper wrote, “This is not a daycare. It’s a university.”
In response to a student complaining to him that he felt “victimized” by a sermon during the university chapel service that made him feel badly for not showing love to others, Piper said:
Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”
Piper said his message for this student and others is that uncomfortable feelings following a sermon are likely due to the workings of a “conscience.”
“The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness,” he wrote. “The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.”
Piper advised the following:
If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.
If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
“We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin,” Piper continued. “We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue ‘trigger warnings’ before altar calls.”
Piper reminded the student body, and the public, that exposure to adversarial ideas is an integral part of higher education.
OKWU “is not a ‘safe place,’ but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others,” he said. “This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up. This is not a day care. This is a university.”
The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation will present the award to Piper. The distinguished award carries a $10,000 stipend to the honoree.
According to a press release, the prize “honors the memory of Dr. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, for her outspokenness in the most hostile of environments, her clarity and determination in the midst of oppression, and her fierce dedication to American ideals and academic freedom.”
“In a time when university administrators are giving in to what amounts to student temper tantrums, Everett Piper stands out for his adherence to the tradition of academic integrity and open inquiry,” said Michael W. Grebe, president of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. “Dr. Piper’s stand for open discussion, and genuine mutual tolerance of dissent on campus is both rare and overdue.”
Piper is the author of Why I Am A Liberal, and Other Conservative Ideas and The Wrong Side of the Door: Why Ideas Matter.