Let’s Just Eliminate Academic Freedom

On Monday, a columnist at the Harvard Crimson came out against academic freedom, because it often  interferes with “something I think much more important: academic justice.” Her name is Sandra Y.L Korn, class of 2014, and she is unwilling to tolerate research that threatens her political goals. She writes: “If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom?” Indeed, why should any university allow any research it disagrees with politically? As one Crimson commenter pointed out, Korn’s anti-intellectual notion could be put in the language of a conservative religious college: “If our university community opposes evolutionism, why should we put up with research that counters creationism simply in the name of “academic freedom?”

The essay picks up two familiar but still minor threads of thought on the modern campus: that left activism is more important than actual study and research, and that censorship will be justified to bat away incorrect intellectual work.  Since Korn believes she is living in “a campus environment dominated by rape culture–a culture that systematically legitimizes and excuses sexual violence,” that would mean working to stop research that might challenge the idea that Harvard legitimizes rape. So much research to eliminate. So little time.

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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