"Universities have become the enemy of a free society," declare Alan Charles Kors, Ph.D. '69, and Harvey A. Silverglate, LL.B. '67, in The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses (The Free Press, $27.50). Politically incorrect points of view are banned; students who do not abide by the orthodoxies of the day are stripped of their civil liberties. Kors is professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, scene of the 1993 "water buffalo affair," one of many specific cases the authors examine. Silverglate is a criminal defense attorney and civil liberties litigator. He has taught at Harvard Law School, scene of the Mary Jo Frug political parody episode, and is an affiliate of Dunster House. They see a threat to liberty in a "'shadow university,' the structures built, almost without debate or examination, to 'educate,' or, more precisely, to reeducate, far from the accountability of the classroom."
Speech codes, prohibiting speech that "offends," protect ideologically or politically favored groups, and, what is more important, insulate these groups' self-appointed spokesmen and spokeswomen from criticism and even from the need to participate in debate. Double standards destroy legal equality and all meaningful accountability, teaching the worst imaginable lessons about the appropriate uses of power. Freshmen orientations and extracurricular "educational" programming offer partisan and intrusive indoctrination that is the opposite of, and incompatible with, a critical liberal education. Crude justice is administered, in secret, in biased fashion and without that due process that teaches lessons about civilization and the rule of law. Administrators, eager to buy peace and avoid scandal, deny the obvious truth of what is occurring, and, when pressed, invoke false doctrines of being legally bound by absolute confidentiality.
...The great cause at American universities should be nothing less than the emancipation of students from the partisan and authoritarian regimes under which they live.
...Let the current centers of politically correct governance of student lives in loco parentis have the courage, if they truly stand by their policies and ideologies, to put this most essential information on page one of their catalogs. Let them say to their public what they say to themselves: "This University believes that your sons and daughters are the racist, sexist, homophobic progeny--or the innocent victims--of a racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive America. For $30,000 per year, we shall assign them rights on an unequal and compensatory basis and undertake by coercion their moral and political enlightenment." Let them advertise themselves honestly and then see who comes.
...There is a terrible and stultifying oppression and double standard in American academic culture. In some future, as in our coming to terms with the period of McCarthyism, people will ask: What did individuals of goodwill do? Each should be able to answer: I fought to keep alive the spirit of open-minded inquiry. I fought to keep alive the full rights of criticism and debate. I fought to give to others the same rights to free expression, including angry or sharp free expression, that I desired or demanded for myself. I fought to preserve persuasion and education against coercion and indoctrination. I fought to permit students to individuate--within the fullest possible freedom allowed by law--according to the lights of private conscience and critical mind--the ultimate precondition of human dignity and liberation. How many trustees, administrators, faculty members, so-called student leaders, parents, donors, and alumni can say that now?