by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Martin Center President Jenna Robinson devotes her latest column to recent actions from Davidson College alumni.
Davidson College has an impressive academic reputation. It has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1. Nearly 90 percent of its courses have fewer than 30 students each. Its six-year graduation rate is 91 percent. And it has matriculated 23 Rhodes Scholars.
It also has one of the worst track records for free speech in North Carolina. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has labeled Davidson a “red light” institution for its campus policies that “clearly and substantially restrict” student and faculty speech. That’s despite the school’s assertion that it is a “community founded on trust as articulated by the Honor Code and on free, unfettered inquiry.”
Now, a group of concerned alumni has organized to change the campus culture so that it protects and encourages freedom of conscience and open dialogue. They call themselves Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse and invite other alumni to join them in their mission to “help ensure a learning environment at Davidson College that is ideologically balanced and that promotes a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation.”
Alumni of the University of Texas have also spoken out about illiberalism on campus. Mark Pulliam, a UT alumnus and retired lawyer, started a Facebook group called “Stop the Insanity at UT.” But so far, the Texas group only provides information on campus news to alumni.
The Davidson group has started to take action. Their first major public effort is an online petition asking the trustees of Davidson to adopt the Chicago Principles of Free Expression and to instruct the president and administration of the university to implement policies in keeping with its tenets.