The Unreported Abuses
April 20, 2005
by David French
Despite the fact that FIRE receives hundreds of formal and informal complaints every year, I remain convinced that there are a much larger number of unreported civil liberties abuses in academia. This suspicion is confirmed every time I speak at a university (side note: if you want me to come speak at your school, please email us). Following my speech, students will stream forward to tell their own tales of censorship and repression. Last week, I was at Colgate in upstate New York and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, and this is what I heard (keep in mind that these are unverified reports; I am merely repeating what I was told):
- At Colgate, student government candidates were accused of “sexual harassment” after creating posters that contained sexual double entendres;
- At Colgate, a professor reported that he’s not aware of a single “legal” hire during his time at the school (meaning that ideology and religion were always discussed during hiring committee meetings);
- At Colgate, flyers or other advertisements for pro-Greek events or causes were routinely torn down—with no response from the administration;
- At IIT, an entire fraternity was sentenced to mandatory sensitivity training for portraying a straight administrator as gay during a skit;
- At IIT, when a piece of school equipment was removed from a wall mounting, every dorm room in the building was searched (usually without the occupants’ knowledge). Furniture was moved and clothing drawers ransacked;
- At IIT, fraternities were punished for holding parties with the themes “White Trash Bash” and “Froes and Forties”;
- At IIT, if prospective students are staying in a fraternity house, every member of the house must agree not to disparage the school in any way; and
- My personal favorite—at IIT, the administration initially refused to allow the student who sponsored my visit to post a flyer advertising my speech.
Together these incidents give students a clear message: conform to our ideology and expectations, or you will be punished. You have to love the modern university, which seeks to build future leaders by teaching absolute obedience and teaches democracy by censoring dissent.