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Campus ideological tribunals are a bizarre sight

We expect this from activist students. But faculty and staff?

Yesterday at The Fix one of our student reporters brought you a story on the “behavior assessment team” at Utah Valley University. As it turns out, university officials have encouraged faculty to report students to this weird enforcement squad for behavior like “speaking loudly,” using “inappropriate language” and statements that make the university “less inclusive” (whatever that really means).

There is, of course, something almost literally Orwellian about a “behavior assessment team.” It is not quite the Thought Police, but it’s close enough to be the Thought Police’s second cousin, and in the end both are working toward more or less the same ultimate goal, which is—surprise—the policing of peoples’ thoughts.

On the one hand this is not all that shocking, given what we know and have experienced on college campuses over the past few years. And yet this is nevertheless rather unsettling in a unique way. We have grown used to unruly student mobs and student ideological enforcers—the groups who shout down speakers, intimidate their fellow students into silence, sometimes descending into violence and assault—and we have also grown accustomed to the administrators and faculty who are either too scared to do anything about this behavior or are else openly encouraging of it.

But it is still comparatively rare, in the grand scheme of things, to see college authority figures become an active and eager part of campus witch hunt culture—to see grown men and women participating in what appears to be an ideological tribunal. One has come to expect such heavy-handed behavior from college students, many of whom are energized by a silly kind of low-grade fanaticism. Adults, who have the advantage of years of experience and, one assumes, wisdom, should know better—you would think, in any case, that most if not all grownups would be embarrassed to be involved in such affairs.

Maybe that’s an unreasonable assumption, however. Given how most campuses are run these days, perhaps it’s not surprising that such organizations exist and are staffed by the same adults who have countenanced so much of the madness we’ve seen over the past decade or so. In any case, if you happen to be on Utah Valley University’s campus, or at any other college where a “behavior assessment team” is active…watch what you say.

MORE: University launches bias reporting system, lists 15 different types of offense genres to report

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