Campus Free Speech

No Campus for Young Conservatives: Yale and the Case Against Safe Spaces

Who's the most marginalized identity group of all?

|

Yale
Public Domain

The overwhelming majority of self-identified conservative students at Yale University think the campus is an unwelcome place for them: 95 percent according to a recent survey. And other students agree: 75 percent of the 2,000 students surveyed thought Yale was specifically hostile toward conservatives.

Will this news motivate any campus authority figure, student-government working group, or activist student movement to demand a safe space for conservative students? I thought not.

If anything, the opposite occurred. Consider Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway's response to the survey. According to The Yale Daily News:

In an interview with the News, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the results of the survey were lamentable but unsurprising. Holloway attributed conservative students' discomfort at sharing their views partly to the pervasiveness of social media.

"So much of your generation's world is managed through smart phones. There's no margin anymore for saying something stupid," Holloway said. "People have been saying dumb things forever, but when I was your age word of mouth would take a while. Now it's instantaneous, now context is stripped away."

Attempting to explain the campus's contempt for conservative students, Holloway further insulted them. Of course conservatives aren't welcome—we don't welcome stupid people! he seems to be saying.

Holloway later attempted to revise his comment. "In no way did I intend to imply that the views of any student or faculty were stupid or should be dismissed," he clarified to The Yale Daily News.

Not everyone finds this clarification persuasive. Minding the Campus quoted a Yale graduate as saying, "He called after the article appeared to have them add a note saying he wasn't trying to suggest that conservatives are stupider than liberals — but of course that's the only way the quote makes any sense. It was a classic Kinseyan gaffe: he accidentally said what he really thought."

So we have a Yale administrator perceived as indifferent (perhaps unfairly) to a certain segment of students who feel disrespected, uncomfortable, and marginalized on campus. What should these students do about it? Should they surround Holloway and berate him for failing in his duty to provide an emotional and intellectual safe space for them?

You can probably guess where I'm going with this, because an analogous episode has occurred on campus after campus—most notably at Yale last fall. The only difference is that the victimized group was liberal students of color, rather than conservatives. Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis and his wife Erika were nearly run off campus because they were perceived as insensitive toward students' demands for formal policies discouraging offensive Halloween costumes.

An objective third-person observer might well conclude that conservative students at Yale are probably more marginalized than many other kinds of students. Their professors are almost unanimously composed of scholars who disagree with them. Their dormitories are run by residential advisers trained to militantly enforce a far-left version of political correctness (no Harambe jokes, or Trump2016 signs). They're viewed with curiosity, if not outright hostility.

Of course, no one's views should be exempt from scrutiny on a college campus—that's the whole point of being there. So it doesn't really bother me that conservatives feel uncomfortable. Occasionally feeling uncomfortable is the price—the benefit, even—of getting a quality education. That's why the concept of an intellectual safe space is so reprehensible: students shouldn't feel "safe" from ideas with which they disagree. On the contrary, they should feel constantly threatened by them.

But if the idea of protecting conservative students' precious feelings strikes you as ridiculous, shielding delicate liberals from offensive Halloween costumes should as well. It's the same thing.

What's different is how various student factions have responded to their perceived marginalization. Liberals have waged a veritable war on Halloween across college campuses, and acquiescent administrators have given them everything they wanted and more: posters discouraging cultural appropriation, lists of prohibited costumes, and even formal promises that inappropriate behavior will be investigated. The left has also demanded—and received—identity-specific safe spaces for its various constituencies: students of color, LGBTQ students, etc.

For the most part, conservatives have not engaged in the same level of we-are-offended demand-making. But there are examples. When a liberal law professor at Georgetown University chose Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death as an ideal moment to disparage the man's record of "intolerance," two conservative professors reported that right-leaning students were "traumatized, hurt, shaken, and angry," by the criticisms of their legal hero.

Again, my response would be: too bad for them. Maybe conservative students could benefit from hearing some criticism of Scalia. Isn't that what college is for?

But the left has made this an untenable position. If feelings matter, then everyone's feelings must matter equally. If a campus is going to prohibit offensive Halloween costumes, what's to stop it from prohibiting offensive statements about Scalia?

In truth, it's a surprise that conservative students aren't making better use of their status as one of the most marginalized groups on campus. Wherever and whenever they leverage their hurt-feelings in order to shut down speech they don't like on campus, I'll denounce it. But I'll also remain disappointed with the left for opening this door in the first place.

NEXT: Pre-Election Terrorist Warning, Middle-School Suicides Up, Man on Death Row Spared Execution for Seventh Time: A.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. When a liberal law professor at Georgetown University chose Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death as an ideal moment to disparage the man’s record of “intolerance,” two conservative professors reported that right-leaning students were “traumatized, hurt, shaken, and angry,” by the criticisms of their legal hero.

    This strikes me as a case of fighting fire with fire.

  2. Tolerant people do not tolerate intolerance. Conservatives are intolerant. Therefore, in the name of tolerance, they must not be tolerated.

    1. Here in camp diversity intolerance will not be tolerated

    2. I saw someone on Facebook demanding that anyone who supports Trump defriend her.

  3. There are plenty of real non-safe spaces around New Haven that some of these students should be encouraged to explore.

    1. And quite a few are much less safe than the I-91/I-95 interchange.

  4. Ha, for him to be embarrassed his words didn’t even have to come instantaneously and stripped of context as happens to his Twitter-obsessed students. Considered survey response. Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

  5. “So we have a Yale administrator perceived as indifferent (perhaps unfairly)…”

    Classic Soave…always has to backpedal.

    1. Joke? I can’t even tell anymore with you people.

      1. Who you callin’ you people!

        No joke.

        1. So you also missed the point. Thanks for clearing that up.

  6. Why do you insist on using “left” and “liberal” interchangeably? Talk about a Robbyhorse.

    1. I think we should be clear on something: reporting on campus goings-on, if they are important to libertarians, isn’t really a problem. The institution of higher education is an important sphere of public life. Most of the joking about Robbyhorses is because he puffs up the links with them rather than broadening beyond things that interest him specifically. His links are a carousel of Robbyhorses that go around in circles and we never seem to be able to get off (meaning something different for Crusty Juggler than most). He also brings us no funny alt text at all, which is a crime in these parts, the punishment for which is mockery.

      Fortunately, the comments on the links page gives everyone a place to put more of them. He deserves the shit he gets, but it’s still shoveled on him with love. Kinda.

  7. “What’s different is how various student factions have responded to their perceived marginalization. Liberals have waged a veritable war on Halloween across college campuses, and acquiescent administrators have given them everything they wanted and more.”

    The important difference is the way administrators respond.

    A lot of this stuff is generational baggage. Boomer administrators see their left wing and minority students as being the anti-Vietnam War protesters, the United Farm Workers, and the Freedom Riders of their youth. They imagine their left wing students as being Students for a Democratic Society, Caesar Chavez, or the Black Panthers.

    They imagine conservative students as being the Klan.

    Left wing students have always made demands. The difference is what the administrators are doing.

    I believe the draft radicalized students in the ’60s and early ’70s like students can’t understand today. When those boomer students who were radicalized by the draft came into leadership positions themselves, they showed up thinking their radical positions were moderate and normal.

  8. If the draft radicalized boomers, there’s some hope for the future that their radicalization will die with them. Again, though less radicalized (there’s no equivalent to SDS, or the Weathermen, or the Black Panthers, or the American Indian Movement, or the Yippies, or Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers, etc. today), the students’ demands are in many ways the same ad other left wing students in the past.

    And if it was the Vietnam War and the draft that radicalized the boomers, then today’s generation of left wing students likely won’t be as radicalized when they grow up.

    Narrow minded perhaps, but not as radicalized.

    1. The problem is that they’ve institutionalized their radicalization into academia and are grooming a new generations into their cohorts. In the big picture, it wouldn’t have a lot of impact but will wound the image of the Higher Education/Industrial complex among normal humans. And since reputation is nearly 90% of their legitemacy, maybe kill it.

      1. As an Ivy League graduate, I’m always a little chagrined when I see one of these stories pop up.

        But, I think people here tend to grossly overestimate the indoctrination effect.

        When you’re young and in college, you do lean a bit more left and are exposed to more leftist propaganda.

        Nevertheless, if you don’t remain in academia, you get a job, you grow up, you maybe produce some kids, maybe take a gander at a small business (and realize what a pain in the ass it is) and before you know it you are voting establishment Republican. Trust me when I say this. I’ve kept in touch with many classmates. If the indoctrination effect of higher learning was truly all that amazing, half of America wouldn’t be voting Republican.

        1. This is a good point. The country remains pretty evenly divided politically. And college educated middle class people aren’t significantly on the left wing side. Most people do grow up after college.

          1. I think you may need to delve inside the stats more. Things are heavily skewed to the left in the younger age groups, even if they “identify” as independents. Do you remember the rise of Bernie?

        2. I couldn’t help remembering that George W. Bush went to Yale. Of course, he’s a big ol’ RINO and endorsed Hillary so…yeah.

        3. When you’re young and in college, you do lean a bit more left and are exposed to more leftist propaganda.

          Let’s flesh this out a little bit. Are kids naturally more liberal, as a matter of biology? Of course not. Does the culture have different ideological expectations for young people as compared to older people? Perhaps, but I think it’s a hard to make an argument that a cultural expectation precedes the actual cultural shift. IOW, youth were liberal before youth were expected to be liberal.

          What, then, makes kids liberal? Let’s look at what most of them have in common: 1) very little real-world experience. 2) public school or private school modeled after public school. 3) exposure to youth-oriented media.

          I think that 1) only makes people susceptible to believing fallacies, but doesn’t require them to believe fallacies. You can be ignorant and correct. More likely, it’s a mix of 2) and 3). The one authority figure the kids are around the most is a schoolteacher. Schoolteachers skew progressive left. The next biggest authority figure for the kids (besides their peers) are the youth-oriented media, which also skews progressive left. The third biggest authority figure happens to be their (largely absentee) parents, which skew conservative.

          Kids don’t lean left just because, they are groomed and indoctrinated to be left-wing up to and until they realize that reality doesn’t meet their expectations.

        4. I was a hippy in college, but after paying my own bills for a while and having kids, I….grew up. Kids with only exposure to media and video games and beer pong don’t understand how the world works.

      2. Yeah, they’re making them narrow minded, but these students aren’t radical like their baby boomer forbears were radical.

        When I gave this list of examples: the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, the Yippies, Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers, Young Lords, Brown Berets, United Farm Workers, etc.

        . . . there are no groups like that on campuses today–certainly not with broad support from students. The students we call radical today are nowhere near as radical as student radicals were from 1965 – 1975. It isn’t even in the same ball park.

        There were reasons why the boomer students were so radicalized, and they mostly boil down to the fact that oppression breeds revolt.

      3. No question that blacks and Latinos and women suffered more discrimination then than they do now, but it was the same with average, suburban, white students, too. Even politically connected politicians’ kids like George W. Bush and Al Gore expected to be drafted once they graduated from college. Getting rid of the draft and letting 18 year-olds vote (the average American solider in the Vietnam War, I’ve heard, was 19 years old) was a HUGE change.

        If you stayed up all night trying to think of a way to radicalize young Americans than by refusing to let them vote until they’re 21 and then forcibly inducting them into the military to go fight a war they oppose, I don’t think you could come up with anything better than that.

        Point is:

        1) The boomer administrations today are the ones that are making the difference.

        2) The baby boomers were radicalized when they were students for specific reasons.

        3) Those reasons are no longer present with students today.

        4) It is unlikely that students today will grow up to be as radicalized as their boomer administrators.

        5) There’s hope for tomorrow.

        1. This is comforting, but I won’t hold my breath

          1. Agreed. Real progress in this case will be made one funeral at a time, as the “boomer administrators” kick the bucket, because they sure as hell are incapable of changing their ossified, fossilized minds.

  9. “Of course, no one’s views should be exempt from scrutiny on a college campus?that’s the whole point of being there. ”

    No, it isn’t. It really has nothing to do with college at all in many cases.

    1. Yeah man! I learned EE in college… Electrons and circuits don’t give one flying fuck about your “views”. Bring on the practical knowledge and training, and dump the PC bullshit, PLEASE!!!

      Also, I pity the whinny crybabies who want their “safe spaces”… They are in for a VERY rude shock, in many places in corporate America today. Many managers and co-workers are militantly selfish, and stop at nothing, to make you look bad, so that they can look good. PC crybabies need to work for Government Almighty; otherwise, in any corporate setting, they will be eaten for lunch!

      1. Yes, until they take over where the real power is in any corporate setting: Human Resources.

        1. In my experience, HR is totally lackeys of management… HR knows who signs their paychecks. This is in corporate America… Government Almighty jobs might be totally different. Where I worked, HR got mostly exported to computer programs, and human management lackeys in Puerto Rica and India, even for American workers…

          1. Depends on the company. At our company, H.R. and payroll work side-by-side so, technically, H.R. ultimately signs their own paychecks. Corporate management will vary from place to place, but I think you seriously underestimate how much power is generally wielded by H.R. teams across America.

    2. The problem is when the college has been usurped by those who want to deconstruct certain types of views but not others.

      When you’re a liberal progressive, liberty of thought feels like oppression.

    3. Actually, that’s the difference between a traditional four-year college and a 2-year technical degree. The four-year college expects you to emerge a well-rounded citizen, more then just your technical knowledge, regardless of your ability to hold a job. The two-year technical degree is focused on getting you the technical skills to hold a specific job.

      And don’t take my word for it, check their missions statements and general degree requirements.

  10. But the left has made this an untenable position. If feelings matter, then everyone’s feelings must matter equally.

    Incorrect. According to modern dogma, the degree to which your feelings matter correspond inversely with your identity group’s perceived level of marginalization. A black trans woman’s feelings matter a great deal, while a white straight Christian male’s matter not at all, because white people are “in control” of society at large.

    1. And if one follows that train of reasoning to it’s reasonable conclusion, this is obviously why straight Christian male’s consistently vote against their own best interests when they are known to be evil selfish bastards.

      Oh…wait. Sorry, that isn’t logic. It’s propaganda. Obviously your average college student is unable to see the difference, but I imagine if they ever leave academia (unlikely) they will eventually learn that they need to acquire some sort of skill set to survive.

      Those who majored in, say, Feminist Studies will literally never leave the cloister. Hence the expansion of useless and frivolous degree’s that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at a place like Yale and the price of a luxury sedan at your average state school. It can produce useful people, but predominately they produce proles.

  11. So the supposed example from georgetown consisted of some conservative profs criticizing a liberal prof and pointing out that conservatives students might, just might, have legitimate concerns about bias from said prof. Um, too bad for him?

    And it’s good to know that robby stands ready to denounce those conservatives when they will inevitably reply in kind to the ‘disappointing’ left.

    1. You know, it’s hilarious how some people are so wrapped up in Robby hate that they spectacularly fail to get the point.

      1. Heh. I was tempted to make a prediction about the appearance of the reason defense brigade. Thanks for not disappointing.

        1. Are you upset that geo1113 and Hail Retaxes got in their licks before you?

        2. And thank you for your continued ability to reliably miss the point.

    2. These threads would make a lot more sense if we could sympathize with the sensitive feelings of National Socialist christianofascists as they are picked on by mean, nasty, atheistic communofascists. This is, after all, a hissing match between advocates of two slightly different flavors of genocidal totalitarian collectivism. The Jesus-myth is failing, but the one-dementional line its adherents helped cultivate to exclude libertarians forces them to conclude that the only alternative is Bolshevik socialism. Liberal for commie and conservative for nazi are euphemistic American equivocations from 1932 that serve only to hermetically seal their paradigm from contact with reality.

  12. “If a campus is going to prohibit offensive Halloween costumes, what’s to stop it from prohibiting offensive statements about Scalia?”

    This sort of slippery slope scenario is logical and points to the dangers of restricting speech on campus. However, it is worth noting that Yale never prohibited any Halloween costumes. The university sent an email encouraging students not to dress up in costumes that their peers might consider offensive. No costumes of any kind were ever banned. No discussion about banning certain costumes ever took place. Essentially, the university simply asked students to try to be respectful of each other. Why was that objectionable?

    1. No Skull ‘n Bones drag? No Ungrateful Dead bands?

  13. If feelings matter, then everyone’s feelings must matter equally.

    This misrepresents their position. see: Progressive stack.

  14. Of course, no one’s views should be exempt from scrutiny on a college campus?that’s the whole point of being there. So it doesn’t really bother me that conservatives feel uncomfortable. Occasionally feeling uncomfortable is the price?the benefit, even?of getting a quality education

    When the *reason* for conservatives feeling uncomfortable about college campuses has little to do with the purported intellectual merits of the content they’re exposed to, but rather with completely anti-intellectual dismissals and social sanction, it seems ridiculous to suggest that “feeling uncomfortable” is merely a natural result of the educational process.

  15. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do,

    —————- http://www.Max43.com

  16. Good article Rico

  17. You want to see the left heads spinning 360? how about a fraternity posts this sign outside the front door? “this is a designated safe space for alcohol consuming right wing white males whose chosen gender identification aligns with their DNA. Any verbal or non-verbal indication of disagreement will be reported to the campus administrators for immediate action against the perpetrators.”
    The real problem in the conflict with the statists is that it is impossible to force people to be free, while it is trivial to force them to be silent.

  18. well harvard just suspended their men’s soccer team for the rest of the year because they were sexually aroused by the female team. so basically the ivy’s ain’t what it used to be.

    http://www.thecrimson.com/arti…..ng-report/

    1. Anyone notice that this was exactly the origin of Facebook at Harvard? Rating girls on their looks. So why not bring back all boys and all girls colleges if the boys aren’t supposed to notice the girls?

  19. Conservatives can feel safe in the alt-text.

  20. You know who else made 95% of a people feel unsafe on their campus?

    1. dean wormer?

  21. Their dormitories are run by residential advisers trained to militantly enforce a far-left version of political correctness

    Back in the mid 2000s I thought about becoming an RA. My tuition was covered by scholarship, so being an RA would have meant paying for nothing at all. I went to one meeting on the process and immediately decided against it based on the leftist bullshit you had to do. One specific thing I remember was that someone saying “gpyyed” in casual conversation was supposed to be reported, but there were also events that you would have to run a couple times a year that were the precursors to this safe space mentality.

    In truth, it’s a surprise that conservative students aren’t making better use of their status as one of the most marginalized groups on campus.

    Not that surprising, since conservatives don’t really value being a victim.

    Wherever and whenever they leverage their hurt-feelings in order to shut down speech they don’t like on campus, I’ll denounce it.

    That does happen occasionally, but it seems to be dwarfed by the number of conservatives who want to be able to use their own speech without being shut down.

  22. The only difference is that the victimized group was liberal students of color, rather than conservatives.

    By what possible bowdlerization of the word victim can the snowflakes in that instance be considered such?

  23. Finally! There is a great way how you can work online from your home using your computer and earn in the same time… Only basic internet knowledge needed and fast internet connection… Earn as much as $3000 a week… ………………… http://www.jobnet70.com

  24. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  25. As an authentic “boomer” who went to college in the 1960’s I can state categorically that nothing has changed in the indoctrination to which students are subjected. The students have changed.

    I kept getting C’s on my essays with an occasional C+. The only difference that I could see between my essays and those of other students was the point of view. The leftist views always seemed to get higher grades. I took an essay by Ludwig von Mises and submitted it as a test. Von Mises got me a C-. Whether you agree with Mises or not he wrote killer essays and certainly much better than anything I ever wrote.

    Meeting notices from libertarian or conservative groups were regularly torn down and thrown in the trash. CCNY was shut down by thugs and the administration did nothing. Violence against non-leftist students was accepted as the norm.

    The only real difference is that now, instead of claiming that they are the victims of “the system” they are now claiming to be victims of evil thoughts. They are like the primitive cultures that attribute every harm to voodoo spells cast by witches. Students are proud “wusses” who collapse at every contact with reality. It’s no wonder that soccer is catching on since soccer players seem to be the best at faking injuries in the hope of getting penalty kicks.

    1. Bob the plagiarist ain’t lying. I infiltrated the YAF-jugend at UT-Austin back in the Reagan era, mainly to lobby for the strategic Defense Initiative back while campus Dems and (shamefully) Libertarian-impersonators preached preemptive surrender. Eventually I realized YAFers were noddingly receptive to nukes to nuke nukes because they were receptive to Armageddon. With eager anticipation they yearned fusion bomb exchanges as a fireworks display for Jesus while wafting heavenward in The Rapture. The favorite YAF tactic for getting rid of long-haired objectivists was to talk about how the commies’ motives were good because at least they were altruistic. Libertarians to them are Left Behind with the rest of the unrighteous.

  26. Hey, Robby’s little YAF buddies are indeed welcome–just not at institutions of higher learning. Faith and learning are ipso facto incompatible because Faith is revealed with no messy experiments, no complicated proofs, no inductive logic. But there is a place just as snazzy that welcomes advocates of Positive Christianity without discrimination as to sects. The Nuremberg Palace of Justice has since November 1945 welcomed pogrom-minded Lutherans with handcuffed arms to place their hand on the Holy Bauble and tell THE Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But THE Truth, Gott Mitt Uns!
    That they were “only following orders” is testimony to conservative respect for Authority and the Rule of Law in securing that Ordered Liberty so sincerely propagated in President Herbert Hoover’s Inaugural Address of March 4, 1929. “We are steadily building a new race,” declared Hoover, and his 1931 Moratorium on Brains made Germany a non-materialistic Christian Nation.

  27. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  28. I be certain …that…my best friend had been realie taking h0me money part-time on their apple laptop. . there friend brother haz done this 4 less than 10 months and as of n0w paid the loans on their h0me and bourt a brand new Cadillac .
    look at this
    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.factoryofincome.com

  29. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  30. Yale does have a conservative “safe space”. It’s called the “Yale College Republicans”.

  31. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  32. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.