It’s Conservatives Who Need ‘Safe Places’ on Campus

File, University of Missouri
Jaime Kedrowski/AP

Students on college campuses across the country are getting therapy after being “traumatized” by a conservative speaker at their campus. The students did not actually attend the event or hear the speaker; the mere fact that it was happening on their campus was traumatizing!

Very soon the mere possibility that a conservative speaker MIGHT appear on campus will be enough to spark a run on therapy appointments.

Obviously, there is a need for more “safe places” on university campuses, but not the kind we are reading about with the cascade of juvenile demands to be protected from “offensive speech.”

It’s Conservatives who are the persecuted minority needing “safe places” on college campuses, not the hypersensitive young totalitarians attempting to impose “speech codes” to enforce conformity to progressive orthodoxies and respect for leftist icons.

Over the past year we have seen an acceleration of the corruption. There has been a veritable avalanche of media stories describing “safe place” protests on hundreds of campuses– protests by “Black Lives Matter” and every leftist advocacy group that can find a student or faculty mouthpiece.

Where is the news coverage of the very real plight of conservatives on campus, whose free speech rights are violated almost daily by organized violence and threats of violence? Conservative student groups cannot even invite a guest speaker to campus without fear of violent disruption of the event and retaliation against the sponsors.

I have been personally victimized by organized disruption of a public lecture on a university campus — at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Michigan State University, and Rhode Island’s Providence College, to name only a few.

  • In each case the college authorities were duplicitous and supportive of the disruption– and not supportive of the conservative student organization which invited me to speak.
  • And in each case, I went home to a place where my rights were protected, but the conservative students on campus had no such safe place to go to.

In most cases, the only genuine victims of the “safe places” demands for censorship are conservative student groups and their invited guest speakers. Yet, the media portray the groups making the censorship demands as heroes for their progressive icons and “minority sensitivities.”

The rules of justice in the contemporary academy are upside down. Special protections are being created for the very people whose threats and violent behavior have silenced free speech and freedom of assembly. The special rights and privileges cherished and protected by universities for centuries now enjoy more respect and higher standing in the community outside the campus gates.

Tolerance of true diversity on university campuses — diversity of opinion and belief– has been eroding for decades while alumni and trustees looked the other way. Conservative faculty have been weeded out by faculty hiring committees, and progressives have taken control of administrative functions as well as the faculty lounge. Meanwhile, generations of “loyal alumni” continue to send their checks to help subsidize the corrupt enterprise while worshiping the icons and memories of a different era.

This epidemic of student demands for “safe places” to protect against threatening words and ideas would make a great science fiction film, but unbelievably, events seem to be outpacing the political imagination. “Attack of the Trump 2016 chalk monsters” could have a terrific 1955 “B-movie,” but at Emory University last March, “Trump 2016” chalked on sidewalks was the cause for a campus-wide therapy session, led by the president of the institution! Trump as President? Oh! My! God! It’s enough to give a progressive student nightmares– and did, apparently.

Emory University, you are in my prayers.

At the University of Missouri, Columbia, Brown, Northwestern, Harvard, UCLA, Wisconsin, and at far away Oxford University, students are seeking therapy to deal with threats from unsavory ideas that allegedly are so inherently threatening that the mere uttering of certain words triggers a mental breakdown.

Even Rolling Stone magazine, not having a fictional campus rape epidemic to exploit that particular week, devoted considerable space to the notion that students’ demands for safe places is a parody of our country’s public discourse. We need safe places everywhere!

Yes, progressives do want to see censorship expanded beyond the campus so political correctness can be enforced in town halls and July 4th parades down Main Street.

Honoring the admonition, “Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” conservatives are fighting back.

Young America’s Foundation is suing California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) for violation of students’ First Amendment rights after the school’s head tried to cancel guest speaker Ben Shapiro, and then failed to protect the public event from organized disruption. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has been assisting conservative students since William F. Buckley, Jr. published his masterful chronicle of liberal intolerance, God and Man at Yale. And conservative alumni are organizing to use financial leverage to restore civility and accountability to university life through such groups as the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.