Articles about Political Correctness and Free Speech on College Campuses

As free speech and political correctness continue to gain attention on college campuses, here are some articles I found helpful when thinking through the issue.

The Coddling of the American MInd

by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt at The Atlantic

“This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion. During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: ‘America is the lad of opportunity’ and ‘I believe the most qualified person should get the job.'”

The Rise of “Bias Response Teams” on Campus

by Jeffery Arron Snyder and Anna Khalid at New Republic

“Let us be clear: Bias and discrimination are real and pressing concerns on campuses across the country. There must be channels for students, especially those from historically underrepresented populations, to communicate their concerns to administrators and their peers. Institutions need to keep on top of “campus climate” concerns through surveys and community-wide discussions. But to institute a formal body that assesses the merits of bias incident complaints is profoundly misguided. They run counter to the basic conviction that we learn best through experimental trial-and-error: changing our minds voluntarily, not because we are told to. Nothing quite kills intellectual exploration like the fear of causing offense. “How are students supposed to feel empowered to share their honest opinions on social issues,” a student at UC Santa Barbara asked about the campus’ BRT, “when they run the risk of being accused of ‘undermining our culture of inclusivity?’”

A Culture of Sensitivity

by Rachel E Huebner at The Harvard Crimson

“I used to believe that open discourse was a value all Americans hold dear. I presumed that when asked about what makes America so unique, many Americans would respond that our pluralistic society is the foundation of so much of our success. That it was understood that without a marketplace of ideas, our society simply could not flouris

But then I started college.

Since the beginning of my freshman year, I have come to believe that a more fitting way to describe the current culture on college campuses is a culture defined not by open expression—but by sensitivity. This undue focus on feelings has caused the college campus to often feel like a place where one has to monitor every syllable that is uttered to ensure that it could not under any circumstance offend anyone to the slightest degree. It sometimes feels as though pluralism has become an antiquated concept. Facts and history have been discarded, and instead feelings have been deemed to be the criteria that determine whether words and actions are acceptable.”

I’m a Liberal Professor and My Liberal Students Terrify Me

by Edward Schlosser at Vox

“This shift in student-teacher dynamic placed many of the traditional goals of higher education — such as having students challenge their beliefs — off limits. While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don’t get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I’m not giving our customers — er, students, pardon me — the positive experience they’re paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?”

Not a Very P. C. Thing to Say

by Jonathan Chait at New York

“If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.”

 

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