A new study has determined that Freedom of Speech on college campuses that tend to dis-invite Conservative leaning speakers and openly work to quash political debate on campus happen to have two things in common. They tend to command higher tuition and as a result happen to have students who hail from wealthier homes than other institutions. A perfect reflection of this phenomenon is Middlebury College in Vermont, which gained notoriety earlier this month when Professor Allison Stanger, who had invited “Bell Curve” author Charles Murray to speak at the college, was assaulted by an unruly and violent mob of students during her attempt to escort Dr. Murray off of campus. I wrote about it here. In the video below, an English professor at the same institution discusses with Tucker Carlson his disgust with the state of discourse in this nation-but he is in the minority it seems at the well heeled college.
In an article on the Brookings Institute’s website they discuss the outcomes of a study authored by Brookings Institute’s Senior Fellow Richard V. Reeves. Reeves crunched the data gathered by the non-partisan group Foundation for Equal Rights In Education (FIRE) on the relationship between colleges tendencies to be “illiberal” , or less tolerant of free speech, and the rate of tuition which largely determines the socio-economic status of their student bodies. What the Brookings Institute found when they crunched the numbers in the FIRE data was interesting-and disturbing.
“Since 2014, there have been attempts at some 90 colleges to dis-invite speakers, mostly conservatives. The average enrollee at a college where students have attempted to restrict free speech comes from a family with an annual income $32,000 higher than that of the average student in America.”
In the graph below, Brookings plotted every University in the country based on the proportion of students from families with an income in the top tier of earners in the country (vertical axis) and from the bottom tiers of earners in the country (horizontal axis). Marked in red are the “illiberal” institutions that are likely to ban Conservatives from their campus or are more likely to experience raucous student protests at those events. What they found is that the more expensive the school, the less tolerant the campus of speech that diverges from those beliefs held by the majority on campus.
In other words, the more economically privileged the student body is, the less tolerant the campus was. So essentially these are gold plated special snowflakes. The theory holds in allegorical evidence as well as economic. When Dr. Murray spoke at much poorer St. Louis University, where the median income of the students families is half of those at Middlebury College, there were just silent and peaceful protests on campus.
Oddly enough the author of the study was inspired by the recent violence at Middlebury. In an interview with Campus Reform he explained how that incident led him to review the topic and seek out the data from FIRE.
“Reeves told Campus Reform that the Middlebury incident inspired him to investigate the topic further, explaining that with the help of the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education’s database of disinvitation attempts, he discovered that Middlebury is actually home to some of “the richest and most privileged” students in America, with the average enrollee coming from a household with an annual income of at least $250,000.
“It was the irony that the students that appear to be protesting the most strongly against him, are the ones identified in [Murray’s book Coming Apart] as the students living in a bubble and not engaging with the rest of America,” Reeves pointed out, noting that the upper-middle class in general is living “in an echo chamber.”
Consequently, he elaborated, parents end up sending their kids to schools where students “don’t engage with speakers they don’t agree with, because they find them controversial.”
In other words these kids are expecting to continue to experience life as their parents explained it to them. Free Speech is only acceptable when you agree with the sentiments expressed. Poor little gold plated snowflakes.