Long gone are the times when college was about the expression of ideas. Now, only certain ideas can be tolerated. Expressing ideas different from those on the accepted list? Well, that just might land you in some hot water. That’s where the Wesleyan University’s student newspaper, The Argus, finds itself.
The student newspaper of Connecticut’s Wesleyan University is being targeted with a boycott by left-wing activists who say the paper doesn’t do enough to accommodate “minority voices.”
The trouble for The Wesleyan Argus began a week ago when the paper published an op-ed by student Bryan Stascavage, who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for having members who allegedly support anti-police violence. Students expressed so much outrage at the piece that just days later the paper published a staff editorial apologizing for it.
“The opinions expressed in the op-ed do not reflect those of The Argus, and we want to affirm that as community members, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement,” the editorial said. The paper promised to publish a “Black Out” issue written entirely be racial minorities in order to atone for its sins, and also said it would institute a tougher fact-checking process to stop “questionable information” from being published.
But critics aren’t satisfied. On Sunday, during an open forum of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, a petition signed by 147 students and faculty demanded a boycott of the Argus and for the paper to lose its funding from the school.
Now, 147 students doesn’t sound like much for a university, however, those 147 are likely to get their way since at least some of the funding for The Argus comes from the Wesleyan Student Assembly, and both the president and vice president of that body have endorsed the petition.
However, that’s not really the issue for at least one student.
One student who was interviewed by the Argus said it was necessary to take action to suppress opinions he thought were offensive.
“That the Argus chose to give this man somewhere to share his disrespectful opinion and to then have the Argus and its staff members defend the publication, hiding behind the argument of ‘well it’s not my opinion but he’s allowed to have it’ is frankly a great disappointment,” said junior Michael Ortiz. “The Argus’ publication of this opinion is a silent agreement with its content, and a silent agreement to the all too prevalent belief that black [and] brown people do not deserve a voice, and that we are not worthy of respect.”
Yes, you just read that.
Newspaper often publish contradictory op-ed, often on the same page. It seems like Mr. Ortiz might want to open a few of them from time to time and see that. However, we suspect that he and those who agree with his statement aren’t interested in the free exchange of ideas.
Unfortunately unsurprising, the student who wrote the controversial piece has found himself the target of harassment.
Meanwhile, over at The College Fix, Stascavage has recounted the turmoil his life has been thrown into by the controversy.
“People whispered “racist” or other pleasantries under their breath when I passed. In a cafe, an activist berated me in public for 15 minutes,” Stascavage writes. “According to one commenter on my column, my picture is being posted online with comments that ‘seem to be calling for violence’ against me.”
At one point, he says, activists stormed into the Argus’s offices and screamed at editors, demanding that the entire next issue be dedicated to apologizing.
Wesleyan, Stascavage says, is in the grips of a full-blown “cultural terraforming” designed to silence any public conservative voices.
Remember, boys and girls, that harassment is never acceptable…unless it’s for a really, really swell cause, mmmkay?
Where are the grown ups in all of this? You know, the faculty that’s supposed to remind students that ideas should be combated with more ideas? We suspect that most of them were in such agreement that they can’t be bothered to understand what’s really at stake here.
They’d much rather win than understand that a “win” just might be the worst thing for freedom of expression possible.