Latest News and Commentary: National

April 20, 2023
By Christopher Nadon

Excerpt: I teach at Claremont McKenna College. Until recently, the school was ranked first for free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. Last fall, I wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and an article for Unherd documenting the CMC dean of faculty’s attempts to censor and punish faculty for speech in the classroom.

Following these revelations, the CMC administration redoubled its efforts at campus-wide control. Here is how a college that once prized academic freedom and free speech loses its way. Similar events are playing out at colleges and universities across America.

April 19, 2023
By Hannah Natanson
The Washington Post

Excerpt: The Florida Board of Education has forbidden the teaching of gender identity and sexuality throughout all grades in K-12 public schools, extending a nearly year-old legislative ban on such lessons from kindergarten through third grade.

The board voted Wednesday to adopt a rule that says Florida teachers in grades four through 12 “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity” unless this instruction is required by state academic standards — it is not — or the lessons form “part of a reproductive health course” from which a student’s parent can opt out their child.

April 19, 2023
By Jacob Sullum
Reason Magazine

Excerpt: The last time I spoke at Cornell University, the turnout was tiny but attentive. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who graduated from Cornell a few years before I did, attracted a much larger crowd when she visited the campus in November, but her talk was repeatedly interrupted by loud and angry protesters, and she left in frustration after half an hour.

It was not a proud moment for Cornell. But the university's response to that embarrassing incident was encouraging, and Cornell President Martha Pollack recently provided further evidence that she is committed to defending civil debate and academic freedom against illiberal activists who cannot abide opposing views. Her example is worth emulating.

April 19, 2023
By DI Editorial Board
The Daily Iowan

Excerpt: The University of Iowa must do a better job of fulfilling their obligation to protect their transgender students.

Free speech is an inalienable right granted to all. However, the university has a responsibility to create and maintain an inclusive environment. In this instance, they have failed to do so. The university must find a balance between maintaining free speech and maintaining respect and safety for all students simultaneously.

April 16, 2023
By David French
New York Times

Excerpt: The extremist attacks on free speech (from right and left) degrade American democracy, and those attacks are especially acute on college campuses, whether they come from angry left-wing students who shout down conservative speakers or from vengeful right-wing legislators.

But there are also some signs that the center is fighting back on some of the most elite campuses in the country, that some of the “best” still do, in fact, possess the necessary convictions.

April 15, 2023
By James Finn

Excerpt: Louisiana Republican Party officials want state lawmakers to forbid the study of racism at colleges and universities, arguing in a resolution approved Saturday that classes examining "inglorious aspects" of United States history are too divisive.

The resolution, passed by voice vote with no discernible dissent at the state party's quarterly meeting in Baton Rouge, asks the Legislature to pass laws removing diversity, equity and inclusion departments and agencies "within any institution of higher learning within the state." Without citing evidence, the resolution asserts that these programs have bloated budgets and inflamed political tensions on campuses.

April 14, 2023
By PEN America Press Release

Excerpt: Today, PEN America launched a new initiative alongside more than a hundred former higher education presidents and system heads to defend higher education against a barrage of state legislation and policies that seek to restrict campus free expression and college and university autonomy.

The new effort, “Champions of Higher Education,” counts among its ranks 118 former college and university presidents and chancellors committed to rallying public support against political and legislative attempts to silence discussion of core issues, politicize curricula, and exacerbate campus divisions. The number of former higher education leaders involved grows larger each day. PEN America brought together this initiative in collaboration with Campus Compact.

April 14, 2023
By Hank Reichman
Academe Blog

Excerpt: Permitting speakers to be shouted down, allowing demonstrators to block access to speeches, or failing to provide sufficient security to ensure that a speech will be delivered—all forms of the heckler’s veto—amount to impermissible violations of the principles of free expression and, in public institutions, of the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, one might ask, what about the expressive rights of those who heckle?

April 14, 2023
By J. Sellers Hill
The Crimson

Excerpt: A group of Harvard undergraduates, faculty, and alumni have been quietly meeting over the past two years to examine what they see as a lack of free idea exchange at the College.

Committee member Shira Z. Hoffer ’25 wrote in a statement that the group welcomed those who “feel like Harvard could be doing better in striving toward veritas.” “The purpose of the committee is to brainstorm and implement ways to increase what we are calling ‘intellectual vitality’ on campus,” Hoffer wrote. “We believe that it is not just possible but crucial to engage with dissenting viewpoints, as long as we do so respectfully, and it is a passion for this engagement which brings us together.”

April 13, 2023
By Johanna Alonso
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt: Students at the State University of New York at Albany don’t view their recent protest of Ian Haworth, a conservative writer and podcaster who has made provocative statements about transgender people, as a disruption of his speaking engagement on campus. Rather, they consider it a demonstration of positivity, joy and support of LGBTQ+ students, meant to counteract the hate they said Haworth brought to campus.

Officials ended up relocating Haworth’s speech to another room in UAlbany’s Campus Center, which was “configured at the time for about 30 people,” according to university spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist. The UAlbany incident is part a string of recent events in which left-leaning protesters have shut down or interrupted conservative voices invited to speak on college campuses.