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Jason Riley on His Campus ‘Disinvitation,’ Lack of Intellectual Diversity in Academia

In his latest Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed, “I Was Disinvited on Campus,” author and Manhattan Institute senior fellow Jason Riley writes about how he was disinvited from a speaking engagement at Virginia Tech over vague concerns that his opinions might upset people on campus:

Last month I was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech in the fall. Last week, the same professor reluctantly rescinded the invitation, citing concerns from his department head and other faculty members that my writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests. Profiles in campus courage.

Riley, author of the book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, cited FIRE’s ever-growing Disinvitation Database to support his assertion that he should have suspected “a disinvitation at some point may have been inevitable.” Riley explained that he lectures in more than a dozen academic settings every year, and typically encounters a “back-and-forth” during debates or Q&A sessions that is “spirited but civil.” The experience at Virginia Tech was something new, but indicative of a trend, he wrote.

This morning, Riley told FIRE more about the need for diversity of thought in higher education.

“Too many students today believe that their ideological opponents are not only wrong but evil, which doesn’t make for a very healthy intellectual environment on campus,” Riley said in an email to FIRE. “Especially if your views are in the minority.”

Riley continued, “I think intellectual diversity is an important part of a college education. Students ought be challenged, learn to defend their views, and understand how others might approach the same subject differently.”

With graduation on the horizon at campuses nationwide—a time of year FIRE has dubbed “Disinvitation Season”—check back to FIRE’s website for news on further speaker controversies as they arise.

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