Donald Trump

Ohio University Wants to Impose Cultural Sensitivity Training After Students Wrote 'Trump 2016' on Free Speech Wall

Punishing students for wrongthink.


Trump 2016
Robby Soave / Reason

Ohio University students enjoy broad free speech rights—but after exercising those rights in a "Trump 2016" kind of way, they might be forced to take cultural sensitivity training. 

Indeed, OU President Roderick McDavis recently assured students who were offended by the appearance of pro-Trump messages on a campus free speech wall that he is "working to accelerate the development of a cultural competency element for freshman orientation," according to Campus Reform. 

McDavis made this remark during his appearance at an emergency meeting of the Hispanic and Latino Student Union late last week (as an aside, I'm calling problematic on that group: the name isn't gender neutral). The meeting was called after someone wrote "Trump 2016" and "Build the Wall!" on an area for expression where anything goes. One student, theater major Simone Alexander, opined that mandatory cultural competency classes are the no-brainer solution to other students writing things she doesn't like. 

To be clear: McDavis was not suggesting that the perpetrators be cleansed of their wrongthink. Instead, he was agreeing with irate students that incoming freshmen should be subjected to training that makes them less likely to subscribe to wrongthink in the first place. 

I'm of course using the term "wrongthink" very loosely here, since it's far from clear the person who wrote "Build the Wall!" actually holds that view. Perhaps he or she just wanted to make a provocative statement, or test the OU's commitment to honoring its free expression obligations—a test OU seems well-prepared to fail. 

The university should not expect incoming freshman to be indoctrinated into the safe space ethos as a precondition of settling into campus life. On the contrary, the proper place to expose students to contrary ideas remains the classroom. McDavis should leave matters in the hands of OU's many, undoubtedly very liberal faculty members—who no doubt spend plenty of time trying to persuade students to submit to a certain ideology.