FIRE’s co-founder and Board of Directors Chairman Harvey Silverglate has hit the media yet again this month, now with a trenchant letter to the editor in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. The letter is short, so here is most of it:
You state only half the story when you criticize those Ivy League universities that persist in barring ROTC from their campuses [...]
Our universities are, by their own claim (indeed, boast), bound by notions of academic freedom and free choice. It ill behooves such institutions to usurp and micromanage the ideological and personal choices of students. Yet in loco parentis intervention in the lives and beliefs of students, such as the banning of ROTC, is hardly surprising.
Speech codes at these schools punish students for merely speaking in a politically incorrect manner, with kangaroo disciplinary tribunals that assure punishment for violations. And what about those infamous "freshman orientation" programs that provide "sensitivity training" and other such thought-reform horrors?
If universities seek to control their students’ thoughts, opinions and words, it’s no surprise that they likewise limit the students’ choice of military training.
For more on the new paternalism of colleges and universities, see the book by FIRE’s co-founders, Alan Charles Kors and Harvey: The Shadow University. The book is celebrating its ten-year anniversary in 2008, and anyone who has observed higher education seriously over the past decade shouldn’t be surprised that organizations like FIRE are still needed to defend students’ individual rights.