Konrad Thallner is a rising junior at Colgate University, pursuing majors in political science and German, as well as a minor in economics. He serves as the vice president of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, and looks forward to spending the Spring 2015 semester studying abroad at the University of Freiburg in southwestern Germany.
On his decision to intern with FIRE this summer, Konrad writes:
I became aware of FIRE while researching the challenges many Greek organizations around the country face in dealing with an array of school rules and regulations. While exploring some of the cases detailed on The Torch to help determine practices for my own fraternity, I observed that many school policies can cross the line from inconvenient to oppressive. Spending time on FIRE’s website left me supremely interested in the organization’s overall dedication to preserving freedom of expression on America’s campuses.
After reading about FIRE and taking a realistic look around my own campus, a lot seemed to “click”—the degree of blatant self-censorship, by students and faculty alike, in the name of political correctness or for fear of expressing an uncommon view was shocking. It wasn’t difficult to see how classrooms became an echo chamber in which students piggyback the dictations of the uneasy professor who reiterates the same “expected” academic view as nearly all of his colleagues in practically every department. Though I may not have necessarily disagreed with what most of my professors were saying, the distinctly one-sided way material was presented was quite frustrating. For the sake of generating a deeper level of debate, I found myself playing devil’s advocate in classroom discussions more often than expressing what I actually felt.
I am excited to be here at FIRE. I look forward to working to preserve the notion that each of our colleges and universities must be “a marketplace of ideas,” for it is a strongly held personal belief of mine that education—the goal of all colleges and universities—occurs in one’s pursuit of truth through open and reasoned academic debate.
Welcome, Konrad! Be sure to check back on The Torch tomorrow to see more from our new interns!