Let Students Think for Themselves

Abigail Anthony & Myles McKnight
National Review

As Princeton students and frequent critics of the ideological orthodoxy that pervades our campus, we’ve witnessed our peers retreat from conversations, opportunities, and even friendships out of fear that their deeply held beliefs will cost them academically, socially, and professionally. A university hinders its truth-seeking mission when it — unintentionally or otherwise — prompts students to think twice before expressing unpopular but reasonable points of view. This can occur when officials violate the basic institutional neutrality required for the university to be a home for the free marketplace of ideas. The “basic neutrality” ideal isn’t new. The most famous defense of the principle was offered by faculty at the University of Chicago during the height of the Vietnam War.

Recently, universities nationwide have begun to abandon any pretension to neutrality. Princeton has been no exception. Dean Amaney Jamal of its School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) issued a statement (under the header “Our Moral Duty”) to the entire student body of her department, decrying Kyle Rittenhouse’s not-guilty verdict. Furthermore, she situated the verdict within the context of the racism embedded “without a doubt . . . in nearly every strand of the American fabric,” thus implying that defenders of a not-guilty verdict are defenders of racism.

Abigail Anthony is a junior studying politics and linguistics at Princeton University. Myles McKnight is a junior studying politics at Princeton University and the president of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition.