Opinion: The chilling effect on campuses isn't because of left-wing ideology

Jena Heath
Austin American-Statesman

Excerpt: When news broke that a group of academic heavyweights and conservative firebrands plans to launch a new university in Austin dedicated to “the fearless pursuit of truth,” by which the founders mean combatting what they see as left-wing ideology flooding college campuses, the Twitter bomb-throwing made for amusing reading. Critics pointed out that the University of Austin isn’t conferring degrees, isn’t accredited, doesn’t have a location for its campus, and wasn’t shy about fundraising. The word “grifter” appeared frequently. Just this week, two prominent advisory board members announced they were stepping down.

I don’t disagree with the group’s critique of low graduation rates, opaque financing formulas, and top-heavy administrative structures, and I’m glad to see students and families asking questions. It also seems to me that real dissent and disagreement has been less evident on campus. But here’s a thought: The reason for the silence isn’t left-wing bullying, it’s money [and] financial fear.