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One of the most-read education news publications in America, Inside Higher Ed, believes that conservatives are just as responsible for attacks on campus free speech as progressives.

As evidence, it cites the threats made against former Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein by the public college’s progressive students, among other cases.

That wasn’t the only curious assertion made in a webcast by IHE earlier this month, discussing the results of its recent annual survey of nearly 800 college and university presidents.

In discussing campus reports of hate crimes, IHE co-founders Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman neglected to mention the apparent rise in hate-crime hoaxes since the election of President Donald Trump.

The survey, conducted by Gallup, asked presidents for their views on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s* proposed Title IX revamp and the perception of conservatives on campus, among other subjects.

The editors said they were surprised about views of the racial climate on campus.

College presidents’ assessment of race relations on their campuses saw a bumpy yet slow decline from 2014, when 90 percent thought relations were “excellent” or “good,” to 2019, when 81 percent said the same.

“I continue to be surprised how few presidents view these [as] problems on campus,” Jaschik said during the webinar. He’s stunned by how many racist incidents he sees when scanning the news, such as students wearing blackface, versus the impression of college presidents: It “happens over and over again.”

Some Jews view ‘all anti-Israel activity as anti-Semitic’

Only 37 percent of presidents say they’re “confident” in Harvard University’s defense of its use of race in admissions, in response to a pending federal trial on whether Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants. A plurality of 42 percent “worry that Asian-Americans face admissions bias at selective colleges,” according to the survey.

Yet nearly two-thirds of presidents support the use of race in admissions, and 79 percent say the public does not understand the concept of holistic admissions, where race is considered among many factors for admissions. Harvard claims its admissions practices are holistic.

Even more (84 percent) say the public doesn’t understand how affordable college is because of attention to student debt, down slightly from last year.

Views on the state of anti-Semitism vary wildly depending on the location of the incidents. Sixty-five percent of presidents said they saw a national increase on campus, yet only 12 percent said they saw an increase on their own campus.

MORECollege presidents say race-neutral admission attacks higher ed

Four in five report seeing no change in anti-Semitism on their campus, while 7 percent have noticed a decrease in anti-Semitism on their campus. The most likely college presidents to identify an increase in campus anti-Semitism are leaders of four-year public institutions, particularly doctoral institutions (24 percent).

Nazi-inspired and white supremacist literature is on the rise, but it’s more difficult to pin down the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents, Jaschik said, because some Jews view “all anti-Israel activity as anti-Semitic” and campuses are full of Israel criticism.

Presidents are much more likely to disagree with DeVos’s proposed revisions to Title IX sexual-misconduct regulations. Forty-nine percent say they will not move federal policy in the right direction, while 28 percent believe they will.

A majority (56 percent) expect to see fewer complaints filed alleging sexual harassment and assault as a result of the proposed regulations. Yet nearly as many, 51 percent, agree that the Obama administration’s approach did not place enough emphasis on due process for accused students.(One in five presidents “strongly” agreed with this.)

Conservatives attack leftist speech: ‘It’s not just one way’

The survey tackled the perception of conservatives on campus, though it was conducted before President Trump’s executive order on campus free speech.

Three in five presidents think their campus classrooms are welcoming to conservatives, a figure that hasn’t changed from last year. Fewer worry about the “increasing skepticism” of Republicans toward higher education (66 percent) than last year (77 percent), and fewer believe there’s harm to higher education from the perception of colleges as intolerant toward conservative views (59 percent) than last year (65 percent).

Yet more agree colleges are intolerant toward conservative views (37 percent) compared to last year (32 percent), and that Republican doubts about higher education are justified (15 percent) compared to last year (12 percent).

The IHE editors tried to neutralize the issue of attacks on campus free speech by claiming that conservatives also try to suppress speech they dislike. There’s great evidence that Trump views campus free speech as a winning issue for him, Jaschik said, even though IHE has recently covered conservative attacks on leftist speech: “It’s not just one way.”

The College Fix asked Jaschik and Lederman to further explain the evidence of conservative attacks on leftist speech. Jaschik forwarded a round-up of evidence of people on the left being silenced or facing criticism, yet one of them was Evergreen State’s Weinstein.

The Bernie Sanders supporter faced calls for firing from leftist students and faculty because Weinstein objected to white people being asked to leave campus on the public college’s annual “Day of Absence.”

Another example of silencing was Prof. Tommy Curry of Texas A&M University, who was interviewed on a podcast about violence against blacks. He drew attention for saying that “in order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die.”

Though Curry claimed to be citing the views of other black thinkers in responding to violence against African Americans, recordings of his classroom discussions suggest that he sees anti-white violence as necessary for black progress.

The Fix reached out to Curry for comment but he has yet to respond.


MORE: 1 in 4 public research university presidents hiding ‘true feelings’ on Title IX

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About the Author
Autumn Berend -- Portland State University