Assaults on campus speech are indeed snowballing

Frederick M. Hess
American Enterprise Institute

Excerpt: Those untroubled by woke attacks on campus speech and free inquiry like to insist that the issue is nothing more than fake news drummed up by the right-wing echo chamber. Well, the invaluable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) this week issued a new report that exposes the cynicism of the “nothing to see here” crowd.

The number of professors, graduate students, and instructors subject to formal complaints shot up fourfold between 2015 and 2020 and the number subjected to petitions increased more than tenfold over that same stretch. There were just 24 total incidents in 2015, but 113 in 2020 (when many campuses were remote) and 61 in just the first half of 2021. Of the 426 attacks FIRE documents over the five-year period, three-quarters have resulted in a sanction of the scholar — with a quarter of them resulting in scholars losing their job.

A deeply troubling trend is the explosion of such efforts launched by undergraduate students. Report co-author Komi German told Inside Higher Education that “It’s a huge red flag for those concerned about students’ tolerance of dissenting views.”