I have previously criticized Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro for his lack of support for free speech on campus. Unlike the University of Chicago across town, Schapiro has been leading the calls for limiting speech deemed to be a “microaggression” or offensive. (For full disclosure, I am a graduate of both Northwestern and Chicago). His lack of commitment to free speech has made him popular with some groups while alarming free speech advocates. That concern was heightened this week when Schapiro defended his efforts to give protected “safe spaces” on campus and said that some offensive speech should be considered a form of “assault.” The comments further distinguish Schapiro was one of the most hostile university presidents toward free speech principles in the country. His pandering to those demanding speech codes and regulations should be an embarrassment for the university, which remains one of the world’s premiere academic institutions. He has taught his students well. Soon after the publication of his latest remarks, student groups shutdown a speaker and a class on immigration. It appears that even classes must now adhere to the mob rule at Northwestern.
We have been following the demands made by students as part of Black Lives Matter and other groups calling for racial justice. Few would top the demands of the Afrikan Student Union at the University of California which has issued a list of demands including a $40 million endowment. The group claims a pattern of “racial attacks” on campus.
A GW law student, Andrew Miller, 23, is being celebrated as a hero this week after he came to the aid of John Rowley, 62. Rowley was attacked by a group of teens in a D.C. Metro station and Miller ran to his aid. Miller suffered a concussion in the incident while Rowley was left with facial swelling and bruises.
The annual GW charity competition between torts and contracts was held this week and I am saddened to report that contracts prevailed on the field of paintball. Each year, the students bid for positions on the two teams and all of the money goes to support public interest work by our law students at George Washington. (The Contracts team is in the back with Professor Greg Maggs in the middle; the Torts Team is sitting in front).
Pierson College Dean June Chu has been a successful academic and administrator at Yale University. However, that stellar record came to a halt — and Chu was put on leave — after it was discovered that she had written reviews on Yelp deemed offensive. The controversy again raises the question of whether teachers should be subject to discipline for their comments outside of schools. Chu is not accused of saying anything offensive to students or even on campus. Yet her Yelp comments were enough to force her into a leave of absence.
We have been writing about the enculturation of anti-free speech values in college students across the country. The most recent incident occurred at the California State University where assistant professor of public health professor Greg Thatcher is shown on a videotape wiping out the pro-life statements written in chalk by members of Fresno State Students for Life. Thatcher supports his students who destroyed the messages before his arrival (those students said that their teacher gave them permission to destroy the free speech of other students). Thatcher’s attitude and open contempt for free speech is chilling. It is also now the subject of a free speech lawsuit filed against him in his personal capacity.