Those who follow John Leo’s columns know that he awards a yearly booby prize called the “Sheldon” (in dubious honor of former University of Pennsylvania President Sheldon Hackney, who presided over the famous “water buffalo” affair) to the university president who “does the most to look the other way when free speech is under assault on campus.” As Leo describes it, “the prize is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except that the Oscar shows a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way.”
This year, after considering several candidates, Leo awarded two Sheldons, both to people who truly deserve it. The first was to Washington State University (WSU) President V. Lane Rawlins. WSU made nationwide headlines after professors attempted to expel a conservative education student for his views and Rawlins’ administration supported and bankrolled disruptive heckling of an intentionally offensive satirical student play. DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider shares Rawlins’s dishonor. Free speech at DePaul took a true beating in the last year, when Holtschneider allowed an “affirmative action bake sale” protest to be shut down, flyers critical of Ward Churchill to be banned, and a professor to be suspended without due process for debating the Israeli–Palestinian conflict with students.
Here’s to John Leo, who does the nation a great service each year with his annual un-award for campus disgrace. Let us hope that next year he doesn’t have such a bumper crop of eligible candidates.