In writing about the reaction to my fellow Williams students to a lecture by Phyllis Schlafly, I recalled thw while students welcomed a controversial speaker, a number of factulty members either urged me to rescind our invitation to the speaker or angrily decried her presence on campus. Perhaps that recollection has led me to speculate that we might see less intolerance on campus were professors to do their job, promoting respect for those holding different politic viewpoints and strongly discouraging intellectual intolerance.
Yet, more often than not, professors seem to be the most intolerant people on university campi. To be sure, many times, they are the most tolerant. Kurt Tauber, an avowed Marxist was quite possibly the most broad-minded Political Science Professor when I was at Williams. Every (that’s not an exaggeration) thoughtful conservative student who taken a course from him held him in high regard.
In the past week alone, I have read two stories of attempts by campus leftists to silence conservative speakers. While they succeeded at the University of North Carolina (UNC), they failed at the University of Texas (UT). In both cases, faculty were involved, indeed, may have spearheaded the opposition.
So, I wonder, how much different the situation might have been, had the faculty, in the true spirit of a university, encouraged the students to be civil, to listen courteously to the speakers and to ask probing questions afterwards.
When David Horowitz spoke at UT, he
was greeted — if that’s the word — by a raucous protest organized by a professor and self-styled Bolshevik, Dana Cloud. Forty protesters hoisted placards high in the air and robotically chanted “Down With Horowitz,” “Racist Go Home,” and “No More Witch-hunts.”
Emphasis added.Â Fortunately, a representative of the university administration threatened “the disrupters with arrest if they continued on this course.”
Hundreds of protesters converged on Bingham Hall, shouting shouting profanities and accusations of racism while Tancredo and the student who introduced him tried to speak. Minutes into the speech, a protester pounded a window of the classroom until the glass shattered, prompting Tancredo to flee and campus police to shut down the event.
During the speech, “geography professor Alpha Cravey joined protesters in chanting the names of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus.” She should have been quieting them down, telling them to listen and raise their objections later.
To the credit of UNC, Chancellor Holden Thorp “called Tancredo today to apologize for his treatment.” As the school considers “Honor Court proceedings” against the students involved, I hope it also considers action against Ms. Cravey. She should be at minimum disciplined and suspended (without pay), if not fired.
It’s one thing for a professor to protest a lecture, it’s quite another to disrupt it.
Students at UNC have much to learn from their counterparts at Williams. And as I recall my own experiences as an undergraduate and read how, with the active encouragement by and participation of faculty, campus radicals today attempt to silence rather than challenge speakers with whom they disagree, I wonder if we’d see a greater respect for a variety of viewpoints at universities today if faculty more regularly encouraged such respect and actively opposed the thuggish tactics that all too many of their peers so readily embrace.