Tag Archives: Political Diversity

My Political Views Do Not Make Me a Traitor to My Ethnicity

When I decided to go to a liberal arts college in California, I did so knowing that my political views were not going to match those of the majority on campus. I didn’t mind this, because the benefits Claremont McKenna College had to offer appeared to outweigh this seemingly minor detail, and I had assumed that my views and I would be treated with at least some respect.

When I arrived on campus in the fall, I decided to join the Claremont Independent. Unlike the other newspapers on campus, the Independent is self-funded, beholden to no campus administrator or bureaucrat, and has made reporting the truth its primary responsibility on campus. Despite the many differences in political opinions among the Independent’s staff, every member was accepted, treated with respect, and encouraged to express any contrarian views. Supporting a certain political candidate or having a dissenting opinion was welcomed, not shamed. And naively, I hoped that my college, with a diverse student body holding a wide range of political views, would thrive on intellectual debate and the exchange of ideas just like the Claremont Independent staff.

But ultimately, my hopes were dashed. Instead of a lively, respectful battle of ideas, I have witnessed the utter mistreatment of those with minority opinions. In one incident, Jose Ruiz (PO ’16), the Managing Editor of the Independent, was ordered to leave a protest– which he attended in support of a close friend–simply because of his association with the Independent. A few months later, he was attacked on social media for being a “shady person of color.”

The term “shady person of color” (SPOC) gets thrown around a lot at the Claremont Colleges. When students of color do not share the prevailing liberal worldview, our peers use this phrase to dismiss our ideas and separate us from the group. Even students whose job is to help students of color feel comfortable on campus participate in this conservative shaming culture. Timothy Valdez (CMC ’19) who will become a student mentor for the Chicano Latino Student Affairs office (CLSA) this fall, called me a “SPOC” after commenting on a Facebook thread relating to a post in which a CMC student threatened to bully another CMC student out of school. My political views do not make me “shady,” and I will not be cowed by efforts to silence my voice as an independent person of color on this campus.

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Silencing students with opposing views poisons the intellectual climate on campus for everyone, especially people of color. Calling those with dissenting views “shady” encourages groupthink by creating an expectation that all students who look the same have to think the same…or else. As a result, those who have not yet formed their own opinions or have dared to form their own are verbally beaten into submission, forced to side with the majority lest they be cast aside as an outsider or a traitor to their race. Race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation do not and should not necessitate a certain worldview, and it is an insult to the agency of every individual on this campus to say otherwise.

Mr. Valdez and his ilk suffer too when they silence their opposition on campus. Where there is no room for intelligent discussion on campus, their own views never have an opportunity to engage with and benefit from the marketplace of ideas. When we are not constantly challenged or questioned, there is no reason to modify our views, even if they are indefensible, weak, or self-contradictory.

I believe in personal freedom, small government, and a free market economy. However, I recognize that silencing and invalidating the opinion of a pro-government, fiscally liberal student by calling them “shady” or their calling their ideas “unsafe” would do nothing to advance my ideas or produce a healthy campus discourse. In reality, it is when I converse with someone with whom I disagree that I try my hardest to understand their reasoning and their beliefs, because it is in these moments that I experience the greatest growth and strengthen my arguments for my own beliefs.

I find it quite ironic that Mr. Valdez is going to be a mentor for CLSA next year, as this position is meant for students who will serve as role models for the Latino/a community. How will he be able to help incoming students find their place at the 5Cs if he vilifies anyone whose opinions contradict his own? Non-liberal students can also come from marginalized backgrounds and they need to feel comfortable with all the staff and mentors at CLSA. We are human beings, and one of the virtues we have is that of free will. We are free to choose how we behave, with whom we associate, and what we believe in. If people who share my ethnic background ostracize me because I don’t always agree with them, they are robbing themselves of an opportunity to benefit from a vibrant exchange of ideas and to appreciate the incredible diversity within the Latino/a community.

The Silent Majority Isn’t Silent Anymore

It’s been about a year since I joined the Claremont Independent staff. I wrote my first article about an America-themed party that students protested heavily a few months before. I had been upset about the protest for quite some time, but I was too nervous to say anything about it for fear of social ostracism. As a result, I kept my opinions to myself for a long while. However, when George Will was disinvited from speaking at Scripps last year, I hit my tipping point. I was fed up with the way non-progressive ideas were shunned at the 5Cs, and decided to finally join the CI.

When I wrote that first article, I was surprised by the response. People had favorable things to say about it on social media, and many people approached me in person to tell me that they appreciated my article and that they had been thinking the same thing. For the most part, this trend has continued throughout my tenure with the CI. When I write an article—whether about Yacht Club, Mudd Goes Madd, Pomona’s Forbes ranking, or anything else—many students voice their support and agreement. This type of reaction was puzzling to me: at a school where  92% of students describe themselves as Democrats, how was it possible that so many of my peers agreed with my relatively right-leaning positions that “the campus left” seemed to so adamantly oppose?

The answer is simple. Political ideologies can be thought of as a bell curve spectrum: some people are more liberal or more conservative than others, but most people fall closest to the middle. On college campuses (perhaps especially so at the 5Cs), there is a bit of extra weight toward the progressive tail, as a sizeable proportion of the student body has a political ideology that is many standard deviations to the left of the mean. By contrast, there are virtually no fringe right-wingers. Aside from perhaps the College Republicans, the CI staff is the most conservative group at any of the schools. And yet, the vast majority of our staff supports gay marriage, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana, in stark contrast to the views that most on the far right hold. As a result, many Democrats on campus find that their moderately liberal views are more similar to the moderately conservative views of our staff than they are to the outrageously liberal views of progressive Social Justice Warriors on the far left, even if we may check different boxes on the 2016 ballot.

Unfortunately, fringe leftists have tremendous power in shaping the climate for discussions on campus. Part of this is because 5C administrations generally cave in to anything these students claim is “offensive,” and that list extends almost infinitely. As we saw recently with the “Mudd Goes Madd” party, for example, the term “Goes Madd” was deemed so offensive to students with mental health disabilities that the party could not be funded. Students are afraid to voice opposition to fringe leftists at the 5Cs because they will inevitably be labeled “racist,” “sexist,” “bigoted,” or some combination thereof, since any disagreement with progressive ideas is immediately dismissed as intolerant.

Contrary to what certain students seem to believe, the Claremont Independent staff consists of some of the most tolerant people at the 5Cs. We see and hear things that we strongly disagree with every single day. Rather than crying “offensive!” or trying to end the conversation, we engage with these opposing views and try to understand them, even when we take issue with them.

The fringe left, on the other hand, has a tough time dealing with opinions it opposes. When Hannah, Taylor, and I posted a picture of the three of us wearing our “Always Right” CI shirts, people called us white supremacists, racists, and sexists, and said things like, “I wish I could shut them [the Claremont Independent] down” and “If you’re trying to convey everything your comments say about how open you are to discourse you need to burn those shirts, or never wear them again.” Nothing in any of our articles is racist or sexist, of course. Which is why, when we asked for instances of racism or sexism in our stories, our detractors came up empty-handed. This sort of rhetoric is antithetical to the goal of tolerance. Rather than trying to slander us with ad hominem attacks, we would prefer that Social Justice Warriors be more open to actually reading and respectfully considering our thoughts—even when they vehemently disagree with us.

Of course, we recognize that there is no shortage of students in Claremont whose opinions differ from the views we typically express in our articles. And we understand that our columns are not going to convert staunch Democrats into staunch Republicans. Our hope is merely that the Claremont Independent will give students who are not especially familiar with conservatism—that is, most students at the 5Cs—a better understanding of why we think the way we think. We hope that our articles will enable students here to be tolerant of conservative opinions, rather than reflexively writing them off as uninformed, insensitive, or evil.

The fringe left has scared many of the more pragmatic Democrats on campus into silence. There are plenty of students at the 5Cs who oppose trigger warnings, current sexual assault adjudication policies, and race-based affirmative action. Radical progressives make a lot of noise, but they do not come close to representing the views of students at the 5Cs as a whole. It’s exciting to see that the silent majority is finally beginning to speak up. Every day, more and more students are speaking out against the increasingly McCarthyesque political correctness movement. What started out as merely trying to remove blatant racism, sexism, and homophobia from polite society has morphed into students trying to turn every tiny misstep into an example of “institutionalized violence.” Many college students who were once proponents of PC culture are no longer able to support what the movement has come to stand for.

Over the past few weeks, as more and more national media outlets have covered our stories, I’ve grown increasingly optimistic about the future of the Claremont Colleges. Several liberal students have joined our staff, and we have received a tremendous amount of support from left-leaning students at all five colleges. These students have told us that they don’t often agree with the viewpoints we express, but they respect our opinions and our willingness to share them. In reality, that level of understanding is all that’s needed for a productive, civil conversation to take place between students who hold different views from one another.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, David Shankbone

Why I Was the Luckiest Student at Scripps College

My heart was beating and my mouth was dry. Dare I challenge my professor’s assertion that Marxism is a better economic system? As I began to speak, fifteen pairs of eyes turned my way…

Coming from a family of firm believers in the free market, I was never certain whether my opinions were my own or those of my parents. Leaving home, I looked forward to going to a college where I could encounter a range of viewpoints. Scripps gave me the perfect opportunity to challenge my most closely-held beliefs because I was on my own in a sea of people who disagreed with me. I went into my Core II class, “Eat the Rich! Capitalism and Work,” fully committed to evaluating alternative viewpoints.

I read the class materials with curiosity and an open mind, and I came to class prepared to discuss both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, I was the only one who voiced a capitalist perspective. If a class about capitalism does not address both the positives and negatives of the free market, students are not able to develop an informed opinion. While the professor claimed to address both sides of the issue, he rarely, if ever, presented the positive aspects of capitalism. Even more alarming was the fact that the socialist and Marxist readings were required, while the pro-capitalist readings were completely optional.

Now, back to that fateful moment. Overcoming my fears, I clearly stated my case. The professor scrambled for a response. That’s when I realized that I was the luckiest student at Scripps College. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to challenge my own views, evaluate my long-held beliefs, and articulate my thoughts independently. I am especially grateful that I gained the confidence to stand my ground in a room full of people who disagreed with me. Other Scripps students, however, have not been so lucky in that respect.

As John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” I challenge Scripps professors and students to explore all perspectives of an issue, so that every student can have the same opportunities that I have had.

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Photography by Wes Edwards.

Featured Organization: ISI Claremont Society

Last fall the issue of political diversity took center stage at the Claremont Colleges as a result of two separate events. The first was the release of a 40-year study that measured the political attitudes of students and faculty at the 5Cs. The study found that over 70 percent of CMC students, and over 90 percent of students at the other colleges surveyed, identify as Democrats – a rate far above that of the American voting population. Of the 532 Claremont Colleges tenured faculty, there are only 16 registered Republicans (half of which come from CMC). The survey highlighted the glaring lack of political diversity at each school, with little to no response from any of the 5C administrations.

Shortly thereafter, conservative pundit George Will was disinvited from Scripps College, where he was slated to give a speech as part of the Malott Public Affairs Program. The program typically brings in one conservative speaker a year, noting that  “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience.” Will was disinvited because of a column he wrote that shared his conservative view of the college sexual assault adjudication process.

The Malott Program’s failure to uphold its commitment to bring in speakers with opposing viewpoints, and the 5C administrations’ lack of effort to address these concerns, sparked the formation of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) Claremont Society. Through the ISI Claremont Society, students are able to access the ISI Speakers Bureau to bring in renowned conservative scholars to campus, connect with other ISI Society members, and attend national conferences and educational seminars.

The ISI Claremont Society’s inaugural event will feature Pete Peterson, the 2014 Republican candidate for California Secretary of State and interim director of Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy. The event will be held on Tuesday, September 15 at 6pm in the Athenaeum Parents Dining Room. If you would like to attend, or if you would like to get involved in the ISI Claremont Society this year, please email claremontisi@gmail.com.


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Photo courtesy: Pete Peterson.

Editorial: Welcome to the Claremont Independent

Dear Class of 2019,

Congratulations! This week you have officially entered “The Bubble.” You now belong to one of the most intellectual, elite liberal arts institutions in the country—where reasoned discourse and thoughtful debate are not just encouraged, but actively kept alive by your many bright and vocal peers.

The Claremont Independent is the catalyst that drives our most lively, heated student discussions. We are the leading outlet for students whose views differ from—and often oppose—mainstream liberals and progressives. We also report campus news and, importantly, serve as a check to 5C administrations. As the only independently funded student publication, the Claremont Independent is in a unique position to criticize administrative decisions and policies, ranging anywhere from unnecessary free speech infringements under the guise of “political correctness” to blatantly biased curriculums that propagate liberal agendas.

We are a small but quickly growing organization with influence that extends beyond the Claremont Colleges. Last year, our stories consistently made national waves and were picked up by prominent news outlets, such as the National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Caller. Over the summer, we received the Collegiate Network’s William F. Buckley Award for Outstanding Campus Reporting.

Traditionally, we have always been a right-leaning organization with the majority of our members subscribing to some variation of conservative ideology. At the heavily left-leaning Claremont Colleges, we provide students with the opposition needed to engage in critical thinking and intellectual debate—two key pillars of a traditional (and meaningful!) liberal arts education.

So welcome to the Claremont Independent, where you can find the most politically diverse set of opinions, thought-provoking arguments, and significant campus commentary at the 5Cs. We hope you enjoy these next four years with us.

Sincerely,

Hannah Oh

Editor-in-Chief

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Photography by Wes Edwards.

Who We Are: A Survey of the Claremont Independent Staff

Between the George Will disinvitation at Scripps, the Allan Cunningham controversy at Harvey Mudd, and the one-sidedness of political discussions at the Claremont Colleges as a whole, it was a rough year for those who made controversial statements at the 5Cs. It is no surprise, then, that the Claremont Independent has experienced unprecedented growth this year, doubling the size of its staff to 40 writers. While CI writers used to be almost exclusively CMC students, all five schools are now represented, with the majority of our writers (56%) hailing from one of the other four Claremont Colleges. 

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The CI often gets a bad rap around the 5Cs—many people consider us to be a group of crazed right-wingers trying to spread our propaganda around the campuses. In reality, we are an independent publication in all senses of the word. We do not receive any funding from any of the colleges, and we have no official political affiliation. As an independent magazine, we have the autonomy to write articles about things that other Claremont publications cannot or will not comment on. As a result, students are often drawn to us because we can provide them with an outlet to express opinions that would be frowned upon elsewhere.

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Consequently, our staff is predominantly conservative: 63% of CI writers describe themselves as either Moderate Republicans or Republicans, and 96% of our staff identifies with a political ideology that is typically considered “conservative.” Almost everyone on our staff supports a Republican candidate for the upcoming presidential election, and nobody on our staff is planning to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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To gain a better sense of the CI staff’s political leanings, I took a survey asking about our writers’ opinions on twenty different major political issues. The issues surveyed included economic, social,
environmental, and college campus-related topics. The responses revealed that the majority of our staff supported the conservative stance on sixteen of the twenty questions. The issues where our staff’s collective stance leaned more toward the traditionally liberal side were gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, abortions, and income-based affirmative action.

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On the whole, the respondents were conservative on fiscal issues and split on social issues. This is to be expected, given that approximately one-third of the CI staff identifies as either a Libertarian or a Classical Liberal, both of which tend to be socially liberal.

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For eleven of the twenty issues surveyed, at least 20% of respondents fell on each side of the debate. For all but five issues, at least 10% of respondents held the minority opinion. There was only one question that every CI survey respondent agreed upon: “Should able-bodied, mentally capable adults who receive welfare be required to work?”

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While the CI staff remains divided on several issues (such as the death penalty and gun control), we are much less divided on more prominent issues (such as sexual assault adjudication policies, minimum wage, and Obamacare) that are frequently brought up in conversations around the 5Cs. Those who feel like their opinions are left out of these common campus conversations are more likely to join the CI to articulate and reflect on their ideas without getting shut down, which explains why our staff’s opinions are more homogeneous on the more popular topics and more divided on those issues that are discussed less often.

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Though the CI staff is not especially diverse on the “Democrat vs. Republican” front, there is still plenty of variety in the different types of conservative ideologies our staff members hold. At schools like the Claremont Colleges, where there are ten or more students who support the Democratic Party for every student who supports the Republican Party, most politically conscious students can easily distinguish between a liberal, progressive, and centrist Democrat. However, it is harder for students who lack exposure to conservative thought to immediately recognize how various types of conservative opinions differ from one another.

Democrats typically advocate for social and economic equality through a combination of progressive income taxes, government regulations, and interventions. In general, Democrats believe the best solution to economic and social problems is the institution of more government programs. Therefore, most Democrats support universal health care, environmental regulations, and labor unions.

The Republican Party’s platform is based on conservatism, advocating for a free market capitalist economy, small government, strong military, and social conservativism. Like Republicans, Libertarians, who are not designated as either Republicans or Democrats (although Libertarian politicians tend to run as Republican candidates), support the free market and limited government. However, Libertarians differ from Republicans by calling for a more limited military, unrestricted migration, and social liberalism.

Classical Liberals’ political opinions are quite similar to those of Libertarians, but they arrive at their conclusions for different reasons. As perhaps best explained by Richard Epstein, the main difference between a Libertarian and a Classical Liberal is that Libertarians tend to focus on ensuring that the government acts in accordance with its designated role (or, more often than not, its lack thereof), while Classical Liberals are typically more concerned with the consequences of governmental interventions.

At schools where there isn’t usually more than one conservative in the room, it is easy to ignore the vast array of right-of-center perspectives. Being pro-life does not preclude one from supporting gay marriage, and favoring lower taxes does not require one to oppose a reduction in military spending. Political opinions are a spectrum, and the CI strives to provide a look into those opinions that often go ignored.

Full Gallery of Responses (25 Slides):

An Evolving GOP

Recently, Representative John Boehner—the eighth-most tenured Republican Speaker of the House in congressional history—once again secured his place as the 53rd Speaker of the House of Representatives. However, growing unrest within the GOP sparked some congressional Republicans to nearly unseat their own party’s sitting Speaker for the first time in history. The attempted coup signifies an unprecedented change among the Republican base: less desire for the career (and out-of-touch) Republican leaders and more desire for those who will fight for values, freedom, and, above all else, their constituents.

Leading up to the recent selection of the Speaker for the coming term, Representative John Boehner ranked the least popular among congressional leadership, with Democrats no longer serving as his only critics: CNN reports that a mere 28% of the American public views the Congressman favorably, and Breitbart reports that 60% of Republican voters nationwide want Boehner replaced as Speaker of the House.

Prior to the vote, a plethora of congressional offices received calls from their constituents requesting that Boehner be unseated. Those calls ultimately inspired 35-40 Republican Congressmen to pledge their vote against Boehner going into the selection process, which would have been enough to unseat him. However, when push came to shove, fifteen of those representatives repealed their decision in order to avoid potential punishment from the establishment leaders.

Following the vote, the fears of those fifteen came to fruition as Boehner immediately removed both Reps. Webster and Nugent—who campaigned against him for the Speakership—from their respective positions on the House Rules Committee. Both politicians hail from Florida—with Webster being the former Speaker of the Florida House and Nugent being a former Florida Sheriff and current Tea Party Congressman—and were easy targets for Boehner as both served on a House Leadership Committee.

Another question to ask is why do a large group of Republicans dislike Boehner in the first place? Boehner’s career record in Congress, as seen through spectrum rankings, offers some insight into the reason for his unpopularity: Speaker Boehner maintains a Liberal Action Score of 0%, meaning that he doesn’t ever vote along DNC party lines. Oddly enough, though, Boehner also maintains the worst Conservative Action Score—11%—among House Republicans. The numbers therefore suggest Speaker Boehner doesn’t really take a stance on any big-issue topics. Boehner’s only introduced legislation since becoming Speaker has been a lawsuit filed against the President in regards to the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality. These facts could potentially explain why both Republicans and Democrats are frustrated with Boehner’s leadership: statistically, he appears to lack any real causes or values for which he adamantly fights.

This style of politicking does little to help the image of the modern GOP as a dysfunctional, and inhibiting body of legislators. However, I believe that voters are frustrated with old-image Republicans and want a new brand of GOP politicians who are willing to represent their changing views and individual liberties. The attempted coup within the congressional GOP taught us two valuable lessons. First, we learned that the American people aren’t getting what they want from their supposedly representative leaders: of 40 Representatives asked by their constituents to vote against Speaker Boehner, only 25 of those Congressmen acted in accordance with the wishes of those they were elected to represent. Second, we learned that there are 25 honest and worthy Representatives in Washington who we must try to reproduce. This is not necessarily to say that we should elect men and women with their specific political stances. We must simply elect those who are willing to represent their constituents first and foremost—which is what makes democracy a truly worthwhile system of government.

Whether or not this occurrence will affect future elections is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: the GOP’s establishment members are facing growing unrest within their own party. In 2014, we saw the sitting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lose the primary to fellow Republican Dave Brat. We also saw Libertarian-leaning Republicans like Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul begin prepping for potential 2016 Presidential campaigns. In addition, Americans elected the first ever African-American Republican Congresswoman (Rep. Mia Love) and the first ever African-American Senator in the South since Reconstruction (Sen. Tim Scott).

Even though these few instances may appear inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, the trend of change in the GOP is indeed gaining traction. Libertarian-learning Senators had never before served as front-line Republican politicians, an African-American Republican woman had never before been elected to Congress, and an African-American Senator from the South had never before been elected to the Senate. Though isolated instances hardly prove a monumental reorientation of the party, they do show that the GOP, for the first time in recent memory, is adapting its stances in order to include more voices in the Republican conversation. This more inclusive and diverse GOP is gaining support with young voters who want a more representative and freedom-oriented GOP. A recent Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey found that 53% of voters age 18-29 would “support a candidate who described him or herself as socially liberal and economically conservative.” Pew Research also notes that among Republicans of the same age bracket, 61% support same-sex marriage. While abortion is still a heated topic on many college campuses, the GOP’s stance on the issue continues to model the position of Americans, who favor Pro-Life policies by up to 11% over Pro-Choice policies. Although it does vary issue by issue, the Republican Party is indeed adapting an overwhelming portion of its social-issue positions.

In light of the recent “Republican Revolt,” it is becoming more and more clear that the GOP is beginning to reshape itself. The changing Republican base is constantly encouraging the election of new-age politicians and the modernization of party platforms. If young conservatives continue the fight to elect true representatives of the people and politicians who will stand up for what they believe in, I foresee great future success for the Republican Party.

Image Source: Wikipedia

All Aboard the Censorship

Charlie Hebdo's post-attack cover, representing a saddened prophet Mohammed. Charlie Hebdo says "All is forgiven" above the depiction of Mohammed.
Charlie Hebdo’s post-attack cover, representing a crying prophet Mohammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) solidarity poster. Charlie Hebdo says “All is forgiven” above the depiction of Mohammed.

The recent terror attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris is yet another example of the fact that there are people who so strongly wish to impose their views on others that they will silence their opponents by any means necessary. By using terror and intimidation tactics, extremists have attempted to scare those who disagree with them into silence, overpowering even the strongest laws protecting free speech.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the Charlie Hebdo attack is its relevance to the modern American college, where the idea of “offense” as the ultimate danger runs deep. This problem prevents students who do not hold mainstream views from participating in discussion on controversial topics for fear of punishment by either their school or by their peer group.

Though students, faculty members, and guest speakers are generally free from violence of this sort on campus, there is no shortage of closed-minded people striving to cut off the voices of those with whom they disagree. This phenomenon is known as the “heckler’s veto,” wherein unpopular opinions are silenced by threats of harassment and bullying from those who oppose such views.

For example, Daniel Mael, a student at Brandeis University, recently found himself under attack after he republished a classmate’s controversial public tweets regarding the execution-style murder of two NYPD officers on a conservative website. Since publishing the article, Mael’s classmates have called for physical violence against him and for his expulsion from Brandeis. Additionally, Mael’s family members, including his parents and grandmother, have been threatened. Mael has been told by campus police that, upon his return to campus after winter break, he should expect his car to be keyed, his dorm room vandalized, and that other students may attempt acts of violence against him.

Similar acts have recently been perpetrated against Omar Mahmood, a student at the University of Michigan who wrote a satirical article about political correctness for the university’s conservative paper, The Michigan Review. After his article was published, Mahmood was fired from his job at Michigan’s institutional campus paper, The Michigan Daily, and his apartment was vandalized: students had thrown eggs at his door and left notes with messages such as “shut the fuck up” and “everyone hates you, you violent prick” as well as a picture of Satan.

In essence, students at Brandeis and Michigan, respectively, tried to suppress their schools’ stated commitment to free speech and punish Mael and Mahmood for their opinions in order to prevent them and others like them from saying or writing things they don’t approve of.

The heckler’s veto is frequently responsible for scaring controversial speakers away from colleges as well. In recent years, loud and disruptive protestors, including both students and faculty members, have prevented speakers invited to campus from effectively sharing their thoughts by interrupting and interfering with their speeches. This was the case at Brown University in 2013, when New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s lecture titled “Proactive Policing in America’s Biggest City,” was canceled half an hour in after protestors grew so loud that it became impossible for him to continue.

But even more troubling is the fact that many speakers withdrew from giving their lecture at all due to the threat of disruption. For example, Christine Lagarde, the first female leader of the IMF, canceled her commencement address at Smith College last year after a series of anti-IMF demonstrations created a hostile environment at the college in which Lagarde felt unwelcome. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was slated to give the commencement speech at Rutgers University last spring, canceled her lecture in response to student protests criticizing her role in the war in Iraq.

Last year also saw Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California system, back out of his commencement speech at Haverford College after students and professors demonstrated against him. Even Haverford’s president, Daniel H. Weiss, was upset that Birgeneau would not be speaking at Haverford, stating, “we have lost an opportunity to recognize and hear from one of the most consequential leaders in American higher education. Though we may not always agree with those in positions of leadership, I believe that it is essential for us as members of an academic community to reaffirm our shared commitment to the respectful and mindful process by which we seek to learn through inquiry and intellectual engagement.”

As Weiss stated, it is extremely important to note that recognizing controversial public figures’ accomplishments or providing controversial lecturers with a platform to speak does not necessarily condone support for all of their opinions or actions. It benefits students to be exposed to a broad range of perspectives and the people who hold them. In the incidents involving Lagarde, Rice, and Birgeneau, the students chose to censor themselves from ideas they didn’t like, and created enough of a threat to those who held such views to prevent them from speaking their minds on campus.

The use of intimidation to suppress certain opinions has no place in a free society. Protesters should seek to promote an increase in discussion and understanding rather than seeking to prevent the other side from articulating its views. There can be no debate or intellectual curiosity if only “acceptable” arguments are allowed. We can only hope that, even in the face of intimidation tactics, people around the world will not back down in fear and will continue to express their opinions, however controversial, freely. Whether in Paris, Claremont, or anywhere else, free speech is the single most important element of a free society. In order to maintain this freedom, we must stand up for the right to freely express all speech, whether we agree with it or not.