Earnest Goes to College

By October 1, 2005

“Few people wake up, look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m a coward. I’m going to buckle under,’” says Alan Charles Kors, a University of Pennsylvania professor who is also president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a First Amendment advocacy group. “The process is more subtle, just a blending into the environment. Students have rolled over and played dead. It takes a rare, principled student to litigate for his or her rights, to stand alone and maybe be ridiculed or shunned, especially when paying a fortune in tuition.” Kors regrets the passivity he sees on campus. “When I was in college, no way were the gay activists and college Republicans not going to offend each other,” he says, “but there was energy and excitement. College is supposed to be a place to explore. That doesn’t happen at today’s universities.”

Kors, whose organization has launched a war on speech codes, finds it ironic that those who promulgate zero-tolerance policies are members of a generation that walked around high on pot and LSD. “American students today are victims of a generational swindle,” says Kors. “The same folks who fought for free speech are fighting for speech codes now. The same folks who experimented their asses off with drugs, sex, and politics—and expected to be treated like adults—are infantilizing students. When I speak to students, the thing they talk about most is the indignity of being a student on campus today.”

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