WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams College has been named as one of the top five worst schools for free speech by civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The school won a not so coveted Campus Muzzle Award largely due to highly visible student protests against the adoption of the Chicago Principles and a generally “spineless” faculty response. According to Silverglate, a key moment was when

…a group of about 20 Williams students showed up to the faculty meeting to protest, some waving signs that stated “free speech is hate speech.” Disruption notwithstanding, the faculty was extremely accommodating, inviting the students into the meeting and permitting them to read their response aloud. But the students continued to be disruptive, at one point demanding that white male professors sit down and admit their “privilege,” and at another screaming that faculty members were trying to “kill them.”

Most of Silverglate’s ire, however, is focused on the weak response from faculty members who seemed, over time, to give in to the “free speech is hate speech” mob.

We might expect at least the grownups on campus to safeguard free inquiry, even if those in their charge do not yet recognize how precious it is. Sadly, this is not the case at Williams College. Dozens of professors who originally supported the Chicago Principles caved to the unruly students and withdrew their signatures, rendering the petition all but defunct. These professors do their students a great disservice by denying them the opportunity to critically engage with a diversity of viewpoints, including ones they may disagree with. Such instances of intellectual cowardice by the professoriate are the antithesis of the goals of liberal education.

As you may know, Williams College is a previous award winner. It won a Campus Muzzle Award in 2016 in recognition of Adam Falk’s paternalistic effort to protect the fragile students of Williams College from the potential death and destruction which would have ensued if he had not rescinded a speaking invitation to John Derbyshire.

For the record, the other Campus Muzzle Awards for 2019 went to Middlebury College, Roger Williams University, UMass Boston and UMass Amherst. In 2018, the awardees included UMass Boston, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Harvard and Brandeis University. More details on this story are available over at The College Fix.

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He received the William Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association for the best doctoral dissertation in the nation in his field in 1989. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010. 

 

 

 

 

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