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Jewish World Review May 10, 1999 /24 Iyar 5759

Don Feder

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Econophone

Conservatives excluded from academic diversity

(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
WELLESLEY COLLEGE and Brandeis University are almost neighbors. Both are well-regarded, expensive and prime examples of the academic inclination to crush the larynx of dissenting voices.

Attorney Harvey Silverglate, co-author of "The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses," decries what he describes as "stealth censorship" on campus.

In place of speech codes (no longer in vogue, due to negative publicity), there are rules against "harassment," which amount to the same thing -- punishment for expressing unpopular ideas.

Instead of outright censorship, the establishment snubs out conservative events and denies funding to alternative publications.

The voice of sanity at Wellesley, Women for Freedom, arranges debates and speakers on issues like racial preferences and academic freedom, presenting ideas students are unlikely to encounter in any other campus forum.

The group has sponsored Dinesh D'Souza (author of "Illiberal Education"), Christina Hoff Sommers ("Who Stole Feminism?") and scholar Harvey Mansfield. The Wellesley News, supported by student activity fees, not only refuses to list the group's events in its calendar section and cover its programs, but won't even accept paid advertisements.

Larisa Vanov, the Wellesley alumnus who started the organization, reports the publicity blackout has had the desired effect.

In terms of reaching the student body, the only alternative to an ad in the official campus paper is flyers, but these are usually torn down within minutes of being posted.

When Horace Cooper, press secretary to House Majority Leader Dick Armey, spoke to Ivy Leaguers for Freedom (affiliated with Vanov's group) at Princeton, he drew an audience of 70. Over 140 attended his debate at Boston University. At Wellesley, the minority critic of quotas addressed four students.

The News won't admit rejecting the ads. Instead, when the group wants to advertise, there's never space available -- though there's plenty for in-house advertising. Stealth censorship.

The administration is terribly blase about all of this. Officials say they can't interfere with a student publication, even one that bears the school's name and receives $20,000 in annual subsidies while violating its rules. If this happened to a feminist or gay group, be sure administrators would read the riot act.

If conservatives can't get coverage in the campus paper, perhaps they should start their own? At Brandeis they did -- and experienced another aspect of academic repression.

Established two years ago, Freedom magazine is irreverent and iconoclastic -- everything the left can't stand when it's on the receiving end.

Last October, the conservative periodical ran articles criticizing the student senate for extravagance and self-interest. Thomas Jefferson said that if forced to choose between having a government and having a free press, he'd pick the latter. Brandeis prefers a complacent student government.

Following the expose, one senator destroyed copies of the publication while another threatened editor Bryan Rudnick with physical violence. The same loose canon alleged that Freedom is, among other stuff, anti-Semitic -- a neat trick, in that Rudnick and several staffers are Jewish.

After cutting funding by 50 percent last semester as a punishment for dissent, the Senate totally defunded "Freedom" in April.

Marxist, feminist, homosexual and other sanctioned perspectives all are funded from compulsory activity fees. Conservatism is where proponents of diversity draw the line.

As at Wellesley, the Brandeis administration tacitly condones this bias. At a school named for the Supreme Court justice known for his expansive view of the First Amendment, this is indeed ironic. Perhaps Brandeis should be renamed Comstock U., to honor the 19th century book-burner.

Silverglate believes student censors are doing administrators' bidding. "The administration uses the claim that they don't interfere as a cover. If the campus paper published racist tracts, for instance, funding wouldn't last five minutes."

As for academics' much touted commitment to diversity, the civil libertarian dryly observes, "They want a student body where everybody looks different, but everybody thinks alike."

If you'd care to know how America would look if the left ran the whole show, consider the typical college campus -- or read the "Gulag Archipelago."


Up

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©1999, Creators Syndicate