FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate and Daphne Patai, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and member of FIRE’s Board of Directors, say the university’s sweeping new diversity initiative mandates conformity of thought.
Citing the mandatory nature of coursework students must take as part of what the school calls a “diversity strategic plan” to promote “diversity, equity and inclusion,” Silverglate and Patai argue the plan requires students to adopt specific attitudes toward ideas and to subscribe to specific political ideologies in the name of the “nebulous” concept of social justice.
The scholars argue that the move amounts to compelled speech proscribed by the First Amendment. Silverglate and Patai wrote earlier this week in an article for Inside Higher Ed:
In a society where students have long been granted the right to refuse, for example, to recite a biblical passage or even the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, college students are now required to genuflect before the banner of diversity, inclusion and social justice. It’s insufficient for students to refrain from uttering offensive or “wrong” words and ideas. They must increasingly be trained to mimic their professors and affirmatively utter the “right” ones.
But don’t let FIRE tell you what to think. Read Silverglate and Patai’s point-by-point analysis of the initiative’s potentially troublesome aspects over at Inside Higher Ed and decide for yourself.