A troubling trend
The findings of the recent Yale Daily News survey are alarming: nearly 75 percent of 2,054 students view Yale as unwelcoming to conservative students (“Election 2016: Conservative views considered unwelcome at Yale,” Oct. 27). Perhaps even more troubling is Dean Holloway’s quote in the article attributing the intimidation conservative students feel to an aversion to “saying something stupid.” We gave Dean Holloway the benefit of the doubt, hoping that he was either misquoted or that he would clarify his remarks.He clarified his earlier comments by saying that he was referring to social media as not being conducive to meaningful conversation in general. Nevertheless, conservative students do not feel maligned at Yale because they fear appearing “stupid”; rather, they have become accustomed to the unhealthy academic and social environment where conservative views are not treated as seriously as liberal ones.
Moreover, if sharing a non-liberal perspective constitutes sharing a “controversial opinion” worthy of “self-censorship,” as Mr. Jim Sleeper suggests in the article, then the marketplace of ideas is truly dead. The addition of a novel, provocative or simply non-mainstream perspective to campus discourse is relegated to discussing “things you agree not to disagree about.” Such an attitude corrodes the ideals of the university. As the Woodward Report — a document “woven into the fabric” of our university — reads, “We value freedom of expression precisely because it provides a forum for the new, the provocative, the disturbing and the unorthodox.”
Joshua Altman and Kyle Tierney are the president and vice-president of the William F. Buckley, Jr. program at Yale.