Wednesday, August 09, 2017

University of Dallas Ranks No. 1 for Most Conservative Student Body

The University of Dallas and Hillsdale College ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in a survey aimed at determining which American colleges have the most conservative student bodies.

The rankings were based on a survey, conducted by The Princeton Review, of 137,000 students attending the 382 schools. The survey asked this question: "Politically, are you far-left, Democrat, non-partisan, Republican, or far-right?"


5 Ways to Convince College Students That Free Speech Matters

In recent days, college students have shouted down, pepper-sprayed, punched, and otherwise shut down the campus guests whose ideas they considered offensive.

The most prominent recent cases have included Milo Yiannopoulos (University of California, Berkeley), Charles Murray (Middlebury College), and Heather Mac Donald (Claremont McKenna College), but a number of institutions have disinvited scheduled speakers and disciplined students or professors for expressing their ideas.

Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, Williams University, and other schools succumbed to student pressure by disinviting scheduled speakers whose views some students find offensive.

The College of William & Mary, the University of Colorado, and DePaul University went so far as to discipline students who criticized affirmative action. The University of Kansas even disciplined a professor for criticizing the National Rifle Association.

Making a Fresh Case for Free Speech

Unless we want this depressing trend to continue indefinitely until free speech has been shuttered—not only on university campuses, but in coffee shops, churches, and public squares—Americans must make anew the case for free speech.

Many of this generation’s college students are skeptical of legal precedents establishing free speech. They have been taught, from a very young age, to discourage bullying and to protect others against intolerant or offensive speech.

Little do they know that the protection of free speech actually helps the very people who have been marginalized or offended by ensuring that those people can speak freely against the offense.

For many college students, though, “free speech” is a very abstract right, one that many of them lack the motivation to defend.

They are not convinced, and we must convince them.

We can’t merely say, “Free speech is necessary in a democratic society. Grow up and get over it, just like we did when we were in college.”

For one, some instances of public speech are genuinely hateful and therefore deeply disturbing, and we should not make light of the negative psychological impact of offensive and hateful speech. Moreover, a condescending reprimand serves to alienate rather than to persuade.

How to Make the Case on Campus

So, how do we make the case?

Instead of reprimanding students or merely citing the Constitution, we should also try to persuade them by making a practical argument about the negative consequences of restricting free speech on college campuses.

Consider these five negative consequences:

1. It defeats the purpose of going to college in the first place.

As the University of Chicago put it in a statement defending free speech: “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

One of the purposes of higher education is to welcome students of all backgrounds and teach them how to discuss and debate a wide variety of ideas. The restriction of free speech undermines that purpose.

2. It erodes the free and democratic nature of American society.

Public universities should serve as microcosms of democratic society. Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch put it well:

The purpose of a college education isn’t to reaffirm students’ beliefs, it is to challenge, expand, and refine them—and to send students into the world with minds that are open and questioning, not closed and self-righteous. This helps young people discover their talents and prepare them for citizenship in a diverse, pluralistic democratic society. American society is not always a comfortable place to be; the college campus shouldn’t be, either.

3. It encourages hypocrisy and undermines our ability to persuade.

If free speech is suppressed, you won’t know who people really are. People who hold hateful or offensive views will hide who they are, and you’ll never be able to persuade them of the wrongness of their views.

4. It ignores the fact that social progress often depends on free speech.

Many of the ideas that most Americans cherish—such as racial and gender equality—were once considered offensive. But they are no longer considered offensive precisely because courageous American citizens were allowed to display the merits of those ideas in public discussion and debate.

5. It tilts our society in an authoritarian direction.

First, if universities are free today to ban unintentionally offensive racial expressions, they will be free tomorrow to ban any sort of critique or evaluation of social groupings. Second, ideological winds tend to change direction. Students who are eager to suppress other people’s speech may one day find their own speech being suppressed.

As legal scholar Eugene Volokh has noted, Christians could be banned from criticizing tenets of Islam, and vice versa. Pacifists could be restricted from criticizing the military. Conservatives could be disciplined for arguing that there are biological differences between men and women.

In two ways, suppression breeds further suppression.

For Americans who are Christians, there is yet another reason to promote free speech: We want to be free to preach the Christian gospel, even though many people find Christianity offensive and discriminatory.

And if we do not stem the tide of free speech restrictions, we might find ourselves in a situation one day where our nation’s universities and public squares keep us from speaking about that which is most precious to us.

That is something upon which Christian Americans of all stripes should be able to agree.


Students sue Oxford for discrimination amid surge in mental health claims against universities

A law graduate is suing Oxford University for loss of earnings after completing her degree a year late due to mental health problems, as experts report a surge in lawsuits from a generation of students who are "aware" of their rights.

Catherine Dance, 24, claims she was forced to take a year-long break from her law degree because staff at Jesus College refused to allow special arrangements for her exams.

She has sued the college for psychological harm and loss of earnings, claiming that she sacrificed a year's potential salary from a lucrative graduate job.

It comes as lawyers report a sharp rise of cases from students who have accused their tutors of discriminating against them for having a mental illness. Several other elite universities are embroiled in the legal battles, with dozens of mentally ill students having sued their universities in recent years.

Miss Dance, who was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and depression in 2009, was allowed to sit her A-Levels in a private room and with a laptop. But Jesus College would not permit the same treatment, she claims.

She said that Oxford University’s approach to her mental health issues was “awful”, adding: "It meant I was one year out of a graduate job, plus the extra emotional damage and psychological harm."

Jesus College denies the allegations, saying they did allow "appropriate adjustments" for Miss Dance’s condition. It says that the main purpose of mock exams is to prepare students for their Finals, and since they would not be allowed to use a laptop then, the College felt it should adopt the same policy for mocks.

The College added that it made a successful application to the University for Miss Dance to sit her Final exams with "adjustments", and she was able to complete her degree earlier this month. 

Another student embroiled in a legal battle with her Oxford college is Sophie Spector, 24, who claims she was forced out after being denied extra time to hand in essays.

Miss Spector, who won a place to study politics, philosophy and economics at Balliol College, alleges that college staff “pressurised” her to go on medical leave due to her disabilities which included dyslexia, ADHD, and OCD.

Chris Fry, a specialist in equalities and human right law and managing partner at Unity Law, is representing Miss Spector and Miss Dance on a no win no fee basis.

He said that the surge of lawsuits against universities is driven by the changing attitudes of young people who are aware of their rights.

Since the 2010 Equality Act, he said has worked on more than one hundred cases of students looking to sue their university for discrimination.

Most have claimed that the “reasonable adjustments” required by the 2010 Equality Act to accommodate their mental illness were not made.

“This is a generation of students who grew up with enforceable rights,” he told The Daily Telegraph.  “It was rare to hear of anybody looking to enforce their rights in that way [before 2010], since then, we’ve had a constant stream of enquiries from students.”

He said that the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees was another factor. “If you’re paying £9,000 a year, you want to ensure that you are receiving a kind of service that allows you to maximise your outcome,” he said. “It’s clear to see why these students who need reasonable adjustments are not prepared to be pushed around or ignored.”

Official data showed earlier this year that the number of students forced to drop out of university due to mental health problems has trebled in recent years, prompting charities and counsellors to urge universities to ensure that proper support is in place.

Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, has announced plans to introduce a “contract” between universities and students, which critics fear could open the floodgates to a wave of lawsuits from students complaining that their university experience was inadequate.

Jesus College denies all allegations of discrimination, and does not accept that its requirements for mock exams to be sat in a large hall and to be handwritten place students with anxiety or depression at any major disadvantage to their peers. The College also says it repeatedly encouraged Miss Dance to seek counselling.

Oxford University said it does not comment on legal proceedings, but insisted that it takes mental health “extremely seriously”.

A university spokesperson said: “We encourage all students in need to use our free and confidential counselling service run by professionally trained staff. Each college has its own welfare team which works very closely with the University’s Disability Advisory Service to put in place appropriate provision so that students can manage their studies successfully and are not disadvantaged by their disability.”


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