Great Moments in College Censorship

One of the Thomas Jefferson Center’s 2010 “Muzzle Awards” for achievement in censorship goes to the president and administration of Southwestern College in Chulah Vista, California. Like many censorship-minded colleges, Southwestern confines student protesters to a tiny area of the campus, far from most student traffic. Shouting, “Let’s go where they can hear us,” students protesting budget cuts last fall moved off the “free speech patio” and were stopped by campus police. Three professors who joined the demonstration were banned from campus pending a criminal investigation. The ban and the threat of criminal investigation were dropped after two weeks, but official reprimands were placed on their records.

– Professor Gloria Gadsden was suspended for more than a month by East Stroudsburg University (Pa.) for writing two tongue-in-cheek remarks on Facebook, both accompanied by “smiley face” symbols: “Had a good day today. Didn’t want to kill even one student” and “Does anyone know where I can find a very discreet hitman? Yes, it’s been that kind of day.” Gadsden was forced to undergo psychological fitness tests She was allowed back on campus after intervention of the Foundation for Equal Rights in Education (FIRE).

– Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, said he thought the university most in need of public shaming is Yale, first for withdrawing the Danish cartoons from a Yale University Press book about them, and second, for gearing up to censor a T-shirt citing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s line calling Harvard men “sissies.” Administrators were reportedly ready to ban the shirt, prepared for the Yale-Harvard football game, but the students avoided Yale’s firm commitment to censorship by withdrawing the shirt. The full line, spoken by a character in This Side of Paradise is: “I want to go to Princeton, I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”

John Leo

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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