UPDATE: For readers who don’t want to follow links in the post, Dr. Swain was accused of making “anti-Islamic” statements, and she wrote on Facebook that only “an idiot would think a 61-year-old black woman who has spent much of her life in academia would benefit from sensitivity training.” Students also accused her of posting people’s personal contact information in a post that’s now deleted. You’ll find other allegations at the Daily Signal.
[Also see this News Channel 5 report.]
College presidents and administrators will rue the day they caved to disgruntled college students and allowed them to believe they have the tyrant-like power to shut down dissent.
It will haunt them for years to come. A few schools, however, have clarified their commitment to free speech and reminded students about the free exchange of ideas concept.
But some students at Vanderbilt University are calling for black conservative Carol Swain’s head. They’ve accused Dr. Swain, a professor of law and political science at the private school, of “unprofessional intimidation on social media, discriminatory practices in the classroom, and unclear representation as a Public Figure with invocations of the Vanderbilt name on her Facebook page,” and other acts.
That means she said something liberals don’t like.
They accused her of “bigotry, intolerance, and unprofessionalism.” Since they can’t shut her up, they’re demanding her employer do it. They want the school to temporarily suspend and investigate her. From the Daily Signal:
Swain said the students behind the protests never took any of her classes, all of which are elective.
“My classes are elective, so no one has to take any of my classes, and no one has to go to my blog page or go to my Facebook,” she said. “I feel that I have been defamed by the students and the petition has been filled with lies, and they ought to be held accountable for what they’ve done.”
Those students, she said, “don’t get to decide whose speech is more valuable than someone else’s.”
Since its release, the petition garnered more than 1,500 signatures. A petition in support of Swain has gained more than 1,000 signatures.
Dr. Swain defended herself against specific allegations and told the Daily Signal that she’s “very concerned about what’s happening across the nation, and I believe university administrators have lost control and that they’re making a serious mistake when they give into students using those 1960s, 1970s protest strategies.”
Nicholas S. Zeppos, the school’s chancellor, said in a statement that Dr. Swain’s “opinions are her own. They do not reflect the opinions of the university in any way. They are not my opinions, the opinions of the provost, or the opinions of university leadership.”
Standard disclaimer, but is that as far as it goes? We hope Vanderbilt will stand by a woman who’s taught there for almost 27 years. Vanderbilt should add a mandatory class on the tradition of American dissent to the curriculum.
Zeppos added the usual politically correct buzzwords about diversity, inclusion, etc., which he surely knows also applies to students and professors who criticize leftists.
Anyone who rejects the notion that America is racist or that homosexuality is normal can expect a backlash. What’s happening to Dr. Swain can happen at any school. College administrators need to get a handle on things right now and let students know, in plain language, that they will not cave to demands to fire or suspend faculty because disgruntled students don’t like what they have to say.