9 Comments

Great nuanced analysis as always. The Chinese Cultural Revolution also started at “elite” universities. Young rabid red guards denounced and purged the older commissars who groomed them.

2024 Harvard rhymes with 1966 Tsinghua: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/struggle-session-parody-3bodyproblem-harvard

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I am an alumnus of Dickinson College and was a protester back in my days as a student in 1962-66. I wrote an email to President Jones disagreeing with his choice to disinvite Mr Smerconish as graduation speaker.

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May 7Liked by Greg Lukianoff

Hopefully, light bulb going on for many college students - free speech is the sine qua non of a democracy.

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These kids don't even have the basic self-awareness to recognize that the medieval death cultists they're protesting on behalf of would rape and murder them without a second thought. What makes you think that any of them are going to have some kind of come-to-Jesus moment with respect to speech?

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Your list of reforms needs a #6, to address the "your speech is violence, but my violence is speech" double standard routinely employed by students and administrators.

It needs to be made clear that while genuinely nonviolent protest is protected without regard to subject or viewpoint, any violation of university policy or law -- even if these violations are ancillary to otherwise-legitimate protest -- is forbidden, with swift, certain, and harsh consequences to follow for violators.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but students must be expelled, without regard to their crocodile tears over having their future prospects destroyed. Faculty and administrators must be terminated for cause, with the details of the firings made very public. Outside agitators must be permanently barred from campus, and must have charges pressed against them.

The people who have created this situation have demonstrated that they're impervious to persuasion, and that they regard silencing speech they disagree with as a moral imperative. They're free to feel that way. But if they try to operationalize those beliefs in any way, universities must start making highly-visible examples of them. Put metaphorical heads on metaphorical pikes as often as necessary until people start getting with the program.

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May 29·edited May 29

The demands and content are utterly irrelevant to this discussion, this is matter of principle. Your demands may be expressed peacefully, full stop. You want divestment from Israel? Okay, noted. Now move along, your vote has been recorded. There is zero obligation to respond to or act upon your demands. None. There is a clear obligation to allow you to peacefully and safely express your opinion, as there is an identical obligation to ensure someone is allowed to peacefully express the US cut all financial investment to Palestine and refuse the recognition of a Palestinian state. So, we have 1 x vote for divest from Israel, 1x vote for divest from Palestine. Please move along. If that does not satisfy either of you, simply be prepared for the consequences.

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I find it interesting that in this whole piece on the pro-Palestine protests, which calls for so many reforms to university practices and advocates for their neutrality, you manage to omit the very demands that everyone of these protests across the whole country and the world are putting to their universities: divest from Israel. As well as protecting students and faculties right to free speech don't universities also have a responsibility to answer to the demands of their tuition paying students? This article is useless without a response to these questions. Theoretical, hypothetical talk of the importance of free speech and civilised discourse means nothing without even so much as a mention of the material demands of the protests and the content of the speech in question.

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Agree with most of your proposals but there is one observation I must object to. The chaos on campus begins and almost ends with the faculty not the administration. It is fair to tax the administration with being weak and defaulting decisions, especially hiring, to the faculty. Faculty is also where most of the money goes once you exclude things like hospitals, auxiliary enterprises like dorms and food services and the like. DEI admistrators are a problem and a growth industry but remain tiny compared to things like physical plant and IT.

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