The tides are changing on the American college campus. Authoritarian administrators and faculty members and pearl-clutching campus social justice warriors are finally being challenged by a new brand of radicals poised to reclaim the American university and return it to its original function and purpose: expanding young minds.
At his 2013 Harvard commencement address, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg reminded us that “a liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism… In the 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96 percent of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama.”
This new revolution isn’t precisely locatable on the political spectrum. Many disaffected liberals and otherwise apolitical people are irritated by censorship and interference from college administrations, too.
But, broadly speaking, it’s conservatives and libertarians who are the new campus insurgents. A new era of disobedience, akin to the Left’s revolution in the 1960s and 1970s against the religious right, is coming. Students are resisting the nannying strictures placed on them by college leaders to invite dissident thinkers and speakers.
Whether liberal, libertarian or conservative, we’re united by one common belief: students should be able to read what we want, watch what we want, play the video games we want, and most importantly, think what we want. And if colleges refuse to expose us to new ideas by employing politically homogeneous faculties, we’ll do the hard work ourselves, by inviting cultural libertarians and other hell-raisers to expose us to new ways of thinking.
We have a responsibility to challenge administrators and instructors who refuse to teach us properly. Our generation of radicals must call for a liberation of the mind and never stop resisting until the range of allowable opinion on campus is dramatically expanded, and those guilty of indoctrination are in retreat.
We’re paying our colleges a lot of money to educate us. It’s time they started delivering the product we deserve.
Incredibly, The Communist Manifesto is the most assigned economics textbook and the second-most assigned text overall on American campuses. Have our professors even read its conservative counterparts in the last decade? They need to start. And then they need to start teaching them.
Instructors who use the classroom to rail against the undue influence of the Koch brothers ought to be reminded of the power and influence of liberal donors like billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros.
University departments based not on scholarly inquiry but on ideology and politics, such as Women and Gender Studies and sociology, have to change. They are breeding intolerance and spreading untruths. We do women no favours by lying to them about “wage gaps” and “rape culture.”
We should at every turn resist the authoritarian “safe space” and “trigger warning” culture that seeks to enforce leftist groupthink under the cover of “protecting” students from nebulous “harm” and threats to “student safety” that are either never properly explained or downright preposterous.
The balance of power between Right and Left at American universities has shifted over the decades. We must now fight for the classroom to return to its original function as an idea laboratory. The classroom should once again become a place where all perspectives are considered and where students are given the ability to come to their own conclusions.
It’s remarkable that conservatives, still today characterised by professors as reactionary bigots, throwbacks and religious loons, are now the primary architects behind this new intellectual and cultural liberation movement. Leftists might like to reflect on how their own side, which used to support the right to offensive free speech as an engine of progressive progress, became the side of language-policing, no-platforming and bossy interference.
Unlike the regressive, social-justice Left, who so often use name-calling and silencing as its main argumentative strategies, we will use mischief, fun, and humor to achieve our ends. We will treat debate as an opportunity for growth, and for pleasure, and as a primary function of the university.
Unlike the Left, we will embrace dissent and disagreement, approaching both with a lightness of touch and a sense of humor that allow our opponents to relate to us — as opposed to the progressives, who alienate and dehumanise by calling anyone who disagrees with them misogynists, racists or homophobes.
But we’ll do all this on a foundation of fact, always politely insistent that the basis of inquiry, argument and public policy must be reality, logic and evidence, not hurt feelings, faux victimhood, gender, skin color, sexuality or — as is so often the case today — manufactured grievance.
If our universities refuse to expose us to thinkers outside a narrow band of approved leftist demagogues, it’s time for us to start educating ourselves by inviting a range of dissident libertarian and conservative speakers.
So I call on my fellow College Republican presidents and the presidents of other liberty and libertarian-based societies to redouble their efforts and book speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Christina Hoff Sommers, Lauren Southern, Gavin McInnes, Ben Shapiro and other brave iconoclasts who regularly terrify the university’s ruling classes.
It’s time for us to stop being cowed into submission and silence by the slanders of progressives who call us bigots just for expressing opposing political views. The absurdity of the Left’s identity-based worldview becomes apparent when they call women misogynists, gays homophobic and blacks “Uncle Toms.”
Your universities will attempt to ban or place restrictions on these events. No matter: the outrage of campus authoritarians, whether students or faculty, will draw attention to events to ensure that they are well attended, and conversations that otherwise would never occur will begin to stir.
These events have already made significant impacts on several campuses: the smartest student leaders have already begun to invite speakers like Yiannopoulos. They have seen the remarkable and exhilarating effect he and other dissident thinkers have on campus.
They can’t fight us forever. Intellectual diversity is inevitable. Although conservatives are traditionally more taciturn than their liberal counterparts, if there’s a moment for us to stand up and form a resistance I believe it is now.
At present, respectable, mainstream opinions about economics, politics, gender and race are shut out of the discussion on campus. They have to be sought out online. That’s not good enough, and colleges have to start recognising that they are doing us all a grave disservice by pandering to regressive leftists on campus and teaching lopsided courses that do not reflect diversity in intellectual history.
We deserve to be liberated from the short and narrow range of ideology that our instructors insist upon. Professors should give us the tools to come to our own conclusions as separate individuals instead of manipulated collectives. We must be responsible for our own destinies.
Conservative and libertarian campus leaders who aren’t willing to poke the hornet’s nest and foment revolt on campus should now step aside for those leaders who understand the necessity of intellectual liberation. The question is no longer if we are going to win, but how long will it take us to get there.
Because those who believe in fun, mischief, and liberty will inevitably win out. And there’s nothing, ultimately, that college administrators can do to stop us.
Tom Ciccotta is President of the Class of 2017 at Bucknell University, President of Bucknell College Republicans and Station Manager of WVBU 90.5 FM Central Pennsylvania. Follow him at @tciccotta.