TRIGGER WARNING: you might be exposed to opinions you disagree with. If you are a coddled left-wing college student, pampered prince(ss), or the Vice President of Ohio State’s Student Government, please consider reading this within the comfort of a Safe Space.
This academic year has escalated a disturbing trend of universities, student governments, and intolerant liberals trampling on the 1st Amendment and thrashing the free exchange of ideas on our college campuses. This blog has done an excellent job covering the ugliness at Oberlin College, where recent behavior demonstrated a premier example of this anti-intellectual movement.
The Ohio State University has thrived as an institution where diversity of ideas is a valuable part of the experience. Sadly, the newly elected Student Government (USG) is trying to overturn decades of free speech progress by imposing their intolerant beliefs on the entire campus.
Two weeks ago 60’s radical-turned-conservative David Horowitz spoke at Ohio State, at the invitation of the College Republicans. Each student had the full range of participation options, from attending the event to paying it no mind. However, rather than respect the individual choices of OSU students, USG released a statement insinuating that this speech made the campus unsafe and that it caused them to “take a stance against him (Horowitz) and his presence on campus”. So much for diversity of opinion.
Subsequent exchanges on Twitter with USG Vice President Abby Waidelich and their Director of Diversity and Inclusion revealed the true depths of USG’s intolerance. When I suggested that those in USG should have had the class to issue their opinions as individuals and leave the organization as a whole out of it, I received the following reply from Ms. Waidelich:
Unsafe? To the Vice President of Ohio State’s Student Government, a guest speaker with an opinion makes the campus unsafe for students. No, Abby, riots make a campus unsafe. Criminals make a campus unsafe. Mr. Horowitz running his mouth doesn’t. As a graduate of OSU, it’s embarrassing that the student body VP doesn’t know the difference between a safety threat and a disagreement.
Things weren’t any better when I interacted with another USG leader Adrienne Micholson who is, ironically, the Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She first accused me of violating her free speech rights, then insinuated that I obviously don’t understand the “systematic injustices” faced by the Jewish and Muslim communities. What I found really interesting is her exchange with another intolerant liberal.
When this student stated that many First Amendment rights should be banned on campus because, “students should feel safe and not subject to potential triggers”, Ms. Michelson replied by inviting her to join the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Because suppressing free speech is the inclusion thing to do.
Further demonstrating USG’s prejudice against conservatives was their utter silence when racial agitator Reverend Al Sharpton visited Ohio State in January 2015. Reverend Sharpton has a long history of bigoted behavior, criticizing “white interlopers”, “diamond merchants” (code for undesirable greedy Jews), and “them Greek homos”.
Tragically, Sharpton’s racially-charged rants against a “white interloper” that he picketed for months arguably helped inspire one of his colleagues to eventually murder seven innocent people at that store. In the mind of an intolerant USG liberal, a conservative’s speech represents a threat to campus safety while a liberal racial agitator – whose rhetoric may have helped inspire a massacre – poses no problem.
USG’s intolerance is a continuation of a disturbing trend among campus radicals that seeks to shut down or intimidate free speech on the grounds that a different viewpoint is a danger to student safety. From the limited amount of information I’ve seen on Mr. Horowitz, I can easily see where I’d agree with him on some things but not others. That’s fine. The best way to settle these differences is to have more speech, not less.
Jeff Capell is a conservative activist in Hamilton County. Jeff is an Ohio State graduate, where he was President of the OSU College Republicans. He enjoys interacting on his Twitter account (@jeffcapell) with thoughtful people of all ideologies.