As students return to colleges and universities to start the fall semester, they will experience the usual things that come with higher education in America: tuition bills, exams, classes, meeting new friends, college sports and…bias and censorship.

Unfortunately, harassment of those with right-of-center viewpoints on America’s colleges and universities is nothing new. It reached a fever pitch between 2016 and 2018, when viral videos of exchanges between speakers like Ben Shapiro and progressive students emerged.

Now, censorship of conservatives and libertarians on campuses doesn’t get as much media attention.

To be sure, the pandemic played a part in this, as many schools didn’t even return to in-person classes until last year, and maybe inflation and the war in Ukraine have just taken up a lot of air in newsrooms lately. But a large part of the reason is that censorship of politically right-leaning students is now just par for the course of a college degree.

The censorship has already begun this year.

As reported by Campus Reform, at the University of Iowa Student Engagement Fair on August 31, an individual attempted to flip over the tables of several conservative student clubs, including College Republicans, Turning Point USA, and Students for Life. He proceeded to shout “fascists” at the students manning the tables and made obscene gestures to them. He smashed one table with his bike helmet several times.

The students did report the incident to the Dean of Students. There is no news yet if any disciplinary action will be taken.

That same day, at the club fair for George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, a Students for Life club was harassed by an individual wearing a “George Mason Democrats” sticker in order to prevent them from interacting with new student recruits. The individual then proceeded to steal a stack of flyers from the club’s table and throw them in the trash.

Students involved in the exchange asked the police officer on duty to help, but the officer refused to intervene.

These are just a sampling of the harassment and censorship conservative and libertarian students will be subject to this year.

In directing CFACT’s Collegians outreach program for seven years, I have seen how these events have a psychological impact on students. Many students are hesitant to join a club or even take a public stance expressing their views out of fear of reprisal, losing friends, or that it will negatively influence academic or professional aspirations.

One CFACT student recently said, “I invited a conservative speaker to my campus this past semester, and students, including members on the [Student Government Association] board, made biased remarks about the individual and tried their absolute best to make me feel uncomfortable and the guest.”

Another CFACT student had this to say after declining to participate in a CFACT letter-to-the-editor campaign: “I have a very large target on my back in my hometown with my views and involvement. I’m not sure if the timing is right with the cancel culture and everything to bring it to my local editor. There is a handful of people in my community who are known to contact colleges, jobs, etc. just because we disagree with them. I recently got into a few Ivy League summer programs and I know I’m being watched.”

In the Spring of 2022, CFACT campus intern Mikel Moore worked with several groups to host pundit and author Ann Coulter at the University of Houston. Campus Reform reported that the school had charged $3,410.38 for the venue and security. Moore asked if events held by the Democrat club on campus were subject to the same fees, to which a school representative said they were unable to answer due to privacy concerns, but that the Coulter event had concerns with controversial statements.

It took Texas State Rep. Briscoe Cain getting involved to call the school and explain their reasoning for charging the exorbitant security fees would be a potential violation of the Texas Education Code.

At the University of Minnesota, CFACT students had signs and murals defaced in previous years and have been subject to violent ANTIFA attacks and protests for organizing speaking events involving Ben Shapiro, Lauren Southern, and Jeff Sessions.

CFACT does not endorse every statement these speakers have made or will make, but the point is that students have a right to hear them, just as they have a right to hear from left-wing speakers.

Yet with censorship and bias of conservatives showing no signs of slowing at our nation’s ivory towers, it seems the adage of, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” has been struck down and distorted.

A better phrase to match today would go, “I disapprove of what you say, and I will defend to the death my right to censor, belittle, and attack you for it.”

This article originally appeared on Townhall.

Author

  • Adam Houser

    Adam Houser coordinates student leaders as National Director of CFACT's collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.