A new documentary is making the rounds that argues, with vivid examples, that the nation’s colleges are squelching freedom of expression and are no longer free marketplaces of ideas.
The film carries the striking title “Indoctrinate U,” and was made by Evan Coyne Maloney, who describes himself as a libertarian and is looking for a national distributor.
The film borrows the technique of ambush interviews from an ideological opposite, Michael Moore, and tells how at California Polytechnic State University, a student underwent a daylong disciplinary hearing for posting a flier publicizing a black speaker whose talk was titled, “It’s O.K. to Leave the Plantation.”
A white student at Michigan State University recalls a dressing-down by her professor for questioning why her adopted Hispanic brother should benefit from racial preferences. Marx, the film contends, is taught, but not Adam Smith.
Does the film offer a fair picture of campus life in 2007, or is it just a pastiche of notorious events? One answer might be found here at Vassar, which faced its own dispute over what some called hate speech and others “political correctness,” and emerged with its integrity more or less intact.
The Imperialist, a publication of the school’s Moderate, Independent and Conservative Student Alliance, published a contributor’s article in 2005 that criticized social centers for minority and gay students. The article called such centers “ghettos” and said they turned Vassar into a “zoological preserve.”
Students complained that the language was insulting and called for banning The Imperialist. For weeks, the issue was debated by the student association, which finances the publication. Ultimately, the group withheld its money for one year and publication was suspended.
...Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, acknowledged that campus freedom of expression has improved since the low points of the 1990s. One such nadir, free speech advocates say, was in ’97, when administrators at Cornell defended as a “symbolic” protest the burning of conservative newspapers that printed a provocative cartoon.
Some academics think campuses are still too repressive. John McWhorter, a linguist and frequent speaker against affirmative action, chronicled a number of visits in which he had been treated with less than hospitality.
“When I give a talk on race,” said Mr. McWhorter, who is black, “I don’t know of any more intolerant environment than a university. There is a bitterly indignant conviction that there is only one way of looking at race.”
This from the New York Times.