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John Leo’s 2007 Sheldon Awards: Tufts Leads the Pack

John Leo, nationally syndicated columnist and tireless critic of campus PC, has announced his Sheldon Awards for 2007 in today’s New York Sun. The Sheldon is “named for Sheldon ‘Water Buffalo’ Hackney, the former president of the University of Pennsylvania,” and is “dedicated to identifying the worst college president of each academic year.”

Leading the pack is:

The president of Tufts University, Lawrence Bacow, [who] looked the other way when a student-faculty committee put a conservative Tufts publication on trial for publishing two parodies. One was a mock Christmas carol making fun of racial preferences in college admissions, the other a satire on Islamic Awareness week.

The publication, the Primary Source, was convicted of harassment for what would pass as free speech on most other campuses. The committee ordered the publication not to run any unsigned articles in the future, a rule not applied to other campus publications. The committee also hinted that funding would be cut if other controversial articles were published.

Mr. Bacow or his staff apparently snookered the Tufts commencement speaker, Mayor Bloomberg. The mayor's speech mistakenly praised the campus for respecting free speech in the controversy, although a harassment verdict had already been announced.

Thank you, John, for bringing much-needed attention to this crucial case. Several weeks ago, we informed Mayor Bloomberg that he had been duped and still have heard nothing from him or his office. As I pointed out in a previous post, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the case is that The Primary Source was found guilty of harassment for publishing verifiable facts about Islam and Islamic history. If even factual assertions are considered harassment at Tufts, then truly no topic is safe. Tufts’ behavior in this case is why we declared Tufts one of the inaugural members of our Red Alert list. We could use Mayor Bloomberg’s and the public’s help in convincing President Bacow to overturn this illiberal punishment and vindicate free speech.

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