Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, will be presented with the Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick Award for Academic Freedom at CPAC today for his unequivocal rebuke of “safe spaces” and other coddling protections for students.
Last November, Dr. Piper wrote “This is not a Daycare It’s a University,” an article that has now been read over 1 million times. In the post, Piper reminded the student body, and the public, that exposure to dangerous, potentially discomfiting ideas is a vital part of higher education. His response to calls for “safe spaces,” trigger warnings, and other forms of student coddling advised easily-offended students to take a hike to Missouri if they wanted pandering.
“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,” wrote Dr. Piper.
The award, which carries a $10,000 stipend to the honoree, will be presented to Dr. Piper at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Ronald Reagan Banquet later today. The prize honors the memory of Dr. Kirkpatrick, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, known for her dedication to 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, which administers the award alongside the American Conservative Union Foundation. “Dr. Piper’s stand for open discussion, and genuine mutual tolerance of dissent on campus is both rare and overdue.”
The problem of emotionally fragile students has been thrown into stark focus in recent months. Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ tour of U.S. campuses has led to group therapy sessions for students at Rutgers, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pittsburgh.
Speaking to Breitbart Tech, Dr. Piper blamed a “broken worldview” for the current problems on campuses across the country. “If you don’t believe in objective reality; if you’ve really bought the lie of Postmodernity when it comes to human knowledge, human identity and human morality then you have no foundation upon which to stand in the face of such ideological storms. Intellectual fascism wins rather than academic freedom when we build the foundation of the educational enterprise on such shifting sands.”
The university president emphasised that the problems on his campus were not as severe as others: “Because of our deep regard for the classical liberal arts and because of our clear commitment to a biblical ethic, we enjoy an academic environment that is much more respectful of the pursuit of truth than many institutions that have embraced the moral nihilism of our time.”
Dr. Piper also added that he had received considerable support from the academic community across the U.S. According to Dr. Piper, members of other university faculties have been “writing and calling in to say thank you; this needed to be said.”
“We’ve had over 1,015,000 views of this article on our website,” he said. “Hundreds if not thousands of comments. Nearly all of the feedback is positive. Over the top positive.”
However, Piper added that he had not heard from other university presidents, speculating that they may feel too threatened to speak out.