Across the country, academics have caused lasting damage to their institutions by failing to stand up to, or actively supporting, extreme demands for speech codes, limits on academic freedom, and tenure changes. In Washington, Evergreen State College faculty members supported students who mobbed biology professor Bret Weinstein in a disturbing confrontation outside his office. The result was a significant $500,000 settlement with Weinstein and a major decline in applications. The University of Missouri experienced a similar meltdown on campus after assistant professor Melissa Click led attacks on a student journalist during heated protests in 2015. The university sought to accommodate protesters as applications plummeted and entire dorms were closed.
Other colleges have been hit with damages from students denied basic due process rights after being accused of sexual assault or harassment. While such rulings are mounting across the country, officials continue to ignore them and refuse to allow minimal rights for accused students. An even greater cost of acquiescence can be seen in reduced academic quality. Students increasingly demand changes based solely on the race or gender of authors, like Yale University students objecting that a course on English classics only included white authors like William Shakespeare.
We are reaching a critical point in higher education in the United States where leaders are ceding control to a small group of activist students and faculty members. Too often, those challenges are met not with acts of conscience but with cowardice. Professors fear being labeled as either insensitive or racist for objecting to protests or changes on campus.