Skip to comments.Campus Conservatives Demand Their Rights
Posted on 12/16/2003 1:41:36 AM PST by kattracks
An education watchdog group is charging several colleges around the country with silencing free speech after shutting down bake sales and is considering legal action.
The "affirmative action bake sales," held by Republican and libertarian groups are modeled after "wage gap" bake sales held by student feminist groups, have sold cookies and brownies at different prices depending on student's race and sex to protest college policies that determine admissions based on such factors.
The bake sales have been shut down on several college campuses in recent months. At one, two angry students at the University of Washington who were opposed to the bake-sale protest threatened the participating students and had to be restrained by police when they ripped down signs and threw cookies. A school official then told the College Republicans, the group holding the sale, to take down their table and disperse.
"It sets a horrible precedent on campus, that if you want to stop someone's free speech, just get violent," said Jason Chambers, a senior at UW and president of the College Republicans club.
But Jerry Grinstein, president of the University of Washington's Board of Regents, supported shutting down the bake sale and wrote in a letter to the student newspaper: "The 'statements' of the UW College Republicans in putting on a bake sale about affirmative action were tasteless, and hurtful to many members of the university community...We pledge our best efforts to foster a welcoming environment for a diverse university community."
These kind of incidents, which have occurred at several other schools across the country, have prompted the civil liberties watchdog the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to begin a public relations drive and consider legal action against the schools.
"We are beginning a campaign to expose their administrations and trustees as being delinquent in their duties to protect the First Amendment, to the extent that they have sanctioned criminal violence to silence political debate," FIRE's chief executive, Thor L. Halvorssen, said.
"We have not ruled out a lawsuit and are in conversations with the students involved as well as members of our legal network," Mr. Halvorssen said.
Similar bake sales have been shut down on the campuses of the University of California at Irvine, Northwestern University, the College of William & Mary and Southern Methodist University.
At Northwestern, the student Objectivist Club held a bake sale for a few hours before being told to shut down "or face the police," according to a report posted on the club's website.
The Northwestern student government put the group "under investigation, which is chilling. ... They were on trial for having this," Mr. Halvorssen said. The group was found guilty of financial misconduct for not having an approved cash box for a bake sale that netted a total profit of 39 cents.
The Objectivist Club was also found guilty of "ineffectual leadership," for not specifically stating that the bake sale was a political protest, and the student government placed sanctions on the group.
Greg Lukianoff, FIRE director of legal and public advocacy, sent a letter to Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen on Nov. 10 stating: "Northwestern University has a moral and legal duty to deliver what it promises to its students, and it has promised them the freedom to speak and to protest. Freedom must not be restricted by the complaints of those who are 'offended' by views contrary to their own."
Four days later, a Northwestern attorney responded by saying that the bake sale was shut down only because of technicalities.
But Objectivist President Igor Dubinsky told the student newspaper: "This wasn't about rules broken... his was about people disagreeing with our anti-affirmative-action bake sale."
Mr. Halvorssen said FIRE takes no position on the issue of affirmative action, but is interested in free speech for all sides of debate.
Meanwhile, Mr. Chambers said the College Republicans plan to hold another affirmative action bake sale in January.
The group has not yet spoken to administrators to gauge their response, he said.
"They haven't said whether or not they would stop us. I would assume they wouldn't after some of the backlash on this one, but we'll see," Mr. Chambers said.
It works. The only essay I ever got an A on in college was one about Vietnam, I took the anti-war side that maybe the north Vietnamese weren't that bad, and I got an A. Never understood how I could have gotten an A on that until later in life.
Worked for me (although I went to college during the Clinton years). I recognized early that my mandatory "humanities" classes were just re-education camps geared toward spewing leftist propaganda and that I wouldn't learn anything of value, so I took careful notes (even taping lectures) and parroted everything back to the professor on papers and tests. It became a joke among those of us that understood the game; we would compare papers and score each other on how many leftist "buzzwords" we used on our homework, or how far out of our way we went to kiss the professor's butt. We'd then get a good laugh when we got those papers and tests back and read the glowing comments. Straight A's in all classes, btw.
Of course, there's nothing hurtful about telling some students that they're intellectually inferior because of their race, and so the standards for admission have been lowered for them. The saddest part of it, to me, is seeing so many minority students automatically accept this judgment, and fight to keep the affirmative action system in place.
It's not shenanigans like this that made me choose a science major, but the sheer number of reflexively liberal professors in the non-sciences really does make me happy with my decision. In the sciences, one is pretty much shielded from political indoctrination. Not completely--some of it still creeps in--but it is hard to turn a lecture on mitosis and meiosis into a leftist screed.
I went to an engineering college, but those only account for about half the courses. You still have outside courses where you just can't get away from it.
I never took history or social science courses. I took several English classes, and one humanities class (on linguistics--totally apolitical), and when I transferred to university, the English courses all transferred as humanities, so I had to take English again. And for the rest of my general ed, I took foreign language classes. So my academic career was not all that political.