by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
College campuses still appear superficially to be quiet, well-landscaped refuges from the bustle of real life.
But increasingly, their spires, quads, and ivy-covered walls are facades. They are now no more about free inquiry and unfettered learning than were the proverbial Potemkin fake buildings put up to convince the traveling Russian czarina Catherine II that her impoverished provinces were prosperous.
The university faces crises almost everywhere of student debt, university finances, free expression, and the very quality and value of a university education.
Take free speech. Without freedom of expression, there can be no university.
But if the recent examples at Berkeley, Claremont, Middlebury, and Yale are any indication, there is nothing much left to the idea of a free and civilized exchange of different ideas.
At most universities, if a scheduled campus lecturer expressed scholarly doubt about the severity of man-caused global warming and the efficacy of its government remedies, or questioned the strategies of the Black Lives Matter movement, or suggested that sex is biologically determined rather than socially constructed, she likely would either be disinvited or have her speech physically disrupted. Campuses often now mimic the political street violence of the late Roman Republic.