Bucknell University Students Are Being Cheated

Liberal authors at left leaning publications like the New Republic, The Nation, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and The Atlantic are the canaries in the college coal mines and we need to heed their warnings. More and more, they are questioning policies that have infantilized college students with “safe spaces”, “trigger warnings”, and the readiness of administrators to withdraw invitations to speakers if anyone objects to the speaker’s opinions.

By eliminating the expression of certain points of view, these speech restricting policies cheat students of the educations they and their parents pay dearly for. They also sow intolerance, and in the case of the recent riots at UC Berkeley, violence and lawlessness.

Having been cited by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education as one of of the “Worst Colleges For Free Speech”, Bucknell University has been short-changing students with like-minded faculty and restrictive speech policies since I was an undergraduate there in the late 1980s. As Maggie Fisher illustrates in TheTab.com, conditions at Bucknell University have taken a turn for the worse as a professor has been caught threatening to harm students for inviting an “unpopular” speaker to campus.

According to the article, Bucknell economics professor Marcellus Andrews sent an email to his colleagues on January 16th, which said, “The fascist should be allowed to speak — even on Bucknell’s dime — but the targets of his abuse need to be able to impose a steep and lasting price on the racists and fascists that invited him — since ‘free speech’ is the demand that government refrain from sanctioning speech, not a general principle that vicious speech is without a social price in general”.

Andrews acknowledged the violence with which he treated “fascists” at Yale, saying:

He was “extremely skilled at combat and used (his) skills to rearrange a few faces, snap a few bones and thereby change the behavior of some folks.”

Andrews was “prepared to defend … and retaliate with skill and, frankly style, when we were attacked”. He recounts a story of an attacker (at Yale?) being pistol whipped (with his own gun) and advises his readers not “to bring a weapon and threaten people when you do not know what you are doing.”

Andrews believes that “the outcasts at Bucknell, like the black folks I am born to, (need to) remind themselves that though they are not now and can never be truly welcomed… we can defeat these … dangerous people if we remain enlightened and, well, use Bucknell as a training site to develop and practice intellectual and social (and in my day physical) combat skills that will serve us well in the wider American scene.”

Unlike the professor, most Americans understand that our freedoms are not costless, and the price to be paid by all citizens is tolerance (in the case of the First Amendment). With spectacular swashbuckling tales of urban “combat” at Yale, Andrews is attempting to rally support for “inflicting a steep and lasting price on the …(students) that invited” the speaker to campus. He appears to be asking other professors to join him in academically destroying (blackballing) these students.

As a liberal Professor at a liberal university, with degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, Andrews is the Educational Establishment, the top of the academic food-chain. He casts himself as a member of the oppressed underclass (outcast) to justify his outrageous and unethical call to action. He understands, of course, that to a young, teenage student, Andrews is an intimidating and powerful authority figure. He is the personification of the illiberal, despotic fascist he’s seeking to eliminate from Bucknell’s campus.

Tom Ciccotta, one of the student leaders targeted, responded to the Andrews email as he introduced Christina Hoff Sommers at a recent Bucknell lecture. Ciccotta’s speech was articulate, eloquent and exceedingly mature given the personal nature and potential consequences of Andrews’ attack.

While I find Andrews’s writing to be repugnant and his behavior to be unethical and unbecoming for an educator, he should have the freedom to express his dystopian views. However, as an alumnus and friend of Bucknell University, I implore President John Bravman and the Board of Trustees to remove themselves as arbiter of acceptable speech. Students, faculty and alumni should demand that Bucknell University, like Purdue, Princeton, American University, Johns Hopkins, Chapman, Winston-Salem State and the University of Wisconsin and others, adopt a Free Expression Statement.

A proposed Freedom of Expression Resolution for Bucknell University can be viewed HERE.

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