The Isolation of College Libertarians – The New York Times

Conservative students criticize the left for seeking protection from ideas they don’t agree with — for defining themselves as victims — and here I am arguing for protection for conservative and libertarian students. But when educators react so violently to ideas and controversy, they shrink the intellectual space of the university environment. They foster an academic atmosphere in which students refuse to question progressive orthodoxy. Worse, some students shy away from asking questions, knowing the social price they might pay.

Political intolerance is hardly confined to one side of the aisle. If conservatives represented the majority of students on campus, I am sure they would be silencing liberals. Universities must push back against the narrowing of ideology generally to guarantee an open intellectual space for all students.

At a time of increased political tension in the country, it is also important for colleges to push students to learn how to grapple with different views. It was Mario Savio, the socialist leader of Berkeley’s free speech movement in the 1960s, who argued that the university should be an intellectual realm where the “hard light of free inquiry” can be brought upon any and all ideas — be they liberal or conservative.

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