In the New York Times this week, Michael Schill, the president of the University of Oregon, spoke out against the anti-free speech protesters who shut down his state-of-the-university address earlier this month. Schill said in the op-ed that he was ultimately forced to deliver the speech in a pre-recorded video, having been driven from the stage by a “handful of student protesters” shouting about the university’s tuition levels, undue corporate influence in higher education, and that old faithful standby – “my support for free speech on campus, a stance they said perpetuated ‘fascism and white supremacy.’”
From the op-ed:
I have nothing against protest. It is a time-honored form of communicating dissent. Often, the concerns students express very much deserve to be addressed. But the tactic of silencing, which has been deployed repeatedly at universities around the country, only hurts these activists’ cause. Rather than helping people who feel they have little power or voice, students who squelch speech alienate those who are most likely to be sympathetic to their message.
Schill spends the majority of his piece decrying how these students define “fascism,” and how their war on freedom of speech bears more in common with fascist movements than they seem to realize. But he makes an enormous mistake when he fails to realize that squishy liberal academics like himself have allowed these students to think that everyone who doesn’t believe in the same things they do must be destroyed. Just look how he talks glowingly about the Black Lives Matter protests that swamped the university when he first arrived on campus.
“In 2015, I had been president of the University of Oregon for all of three months when protests erupted around the country over the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo,” he writes. “A group called the Black Student Task Force organized a protest right outside my office. I invited the students in for a discussion, and although the matters we discussed, about systemic racism and educational opportunity, were emotionally charged, we established a respectful dialogue. More important, the discussion led to change.
“The University of Oregon engaged in a searching and difficult historical examination of racism at the school,” he continues. “We doubled the number of black faculty members, created new programs to enroll more black students, started an African-American lecture series, and raised $1.6 million to build a new black student cultural center. We also invested in symbolic change by removing the name of a former Ku Klux Klan leader from one of our residence halls and replacing it with the name of an illustrious black alumnus.”
And what did all of this terrific liberal outreach get Mr. Schill and the University of Oregon? It got him booed off the stage in 2017 by the same extreme-leftists who protested outside his office a couple of years ago. THIS is why you don’t give the asylum over to the inmates. THIS is why you stand up strong, straight, and proud in the face of identity movements. Every parent worth a damn learns early on that you don’t give your kid everything he wants, just because he throws a tantrum. Until college presidents and deans around this country learn the same lesson, these tantrums are just going to grow louder and more corrosive.