Freeing Harvard


Harvey Silverglate, civil liberties lawyer and co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is running for a seat on Harvard's Board of Overseers. reason asked him to pinpoint the three worst trends in modern American academia.

1.) Speech codes: Commencing with the "sensitivity" movement in the mid-1980s, universities (public and private) continue to enforce speech codes that restrict expression. University P.R. spokesmen (who almost always speak for silent administrators) deny the existence of "speech codes," though. They instead call them "harassment" codes, which prohibit students from saying anything that will offend ("harass") another.

2.) Student discipline: Our campuses have developed the kangaroo court to an art form. Harvard is the worst—students are not entitled to even the most basic procedural rights because the process is "educational" rather than "disciplinary." This linguistic abuse brings to mind Orwell's 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language"—not widely taught in higher education any longer, coincidentally.

3.) Corporatization of the academy: Rather than streamlining the academy to emulate the best aspects of corporate culture, modern universities have adopted the worst aspects. Consider the aforementioned P.R. flack protecting the president from having to respond about speech codes and kangaroo courts. Or the rush to open branch campuses in the Persian Gulf states, where academic freedom is a secondary consideration to the sheik's check clearing.

NEXT: Briefly Noted: A Foreign Policy They Can't Refuse

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  1. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets.

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