Students are beginning to revolt against the leftist, anti-free-speech culture pervading America’s colleges and universities, and it’s starting with the freshmen.
At the most liberal college in the country, Reed College in Portland, a group called “Reedies Against Racism” (RAR) has been protesting and demonstrating for the last year against a required, year-long humanities class that requires a high-level of critical thinking and analysis.
They are exposed to a multitude of ideas and opinions, which is just all too much for these “Reedies.”
It started one year ago, when actor Irish Washington urged “every single African American in the United States that was really fed up with being angry, sad and disgusted” over police shootings to stay home on Monday.
RAR organized the walkout of the course, HUM110 on Sept. 26, 2016. The Atlantic’s Chris Bodenner writes that the class consists of lectures that everyone attends and small break-out classes “where students learn how to discuss, debate, and defend their readings.” It’s the heart of the academic experience at Reed, which ranks second for future Ph.D.s in the humanities and fourth in all subjects.
But for RAR, HUM110 is all about oppression. “We believe that the first lesson that freshmen should learn about HUM110 is that it perpetuates white supremacy—by centering ‘whiteness’ as the only required class at Reed,” according to a RAR statement delivered to all new freshmen. The texts that make up the HUM110 syllabus—from the ancient Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt regions—are “Eurocentric,” “Caucasoid,” and thus “oppressive,” RAR leaders have stated. HUM110 “feels like a cruel test for students of color,” one leader remarked on public radio. “It traumatized my peers.”
From that day forward RAR boycotted every single lecture in that class. They did something unusual – staging protests in the class.
A Hum protest is visually striking: Up to several dozen RAR supporters position themselves alongside the professor and quietly hold signs reading “We demand space for students of color,” “We cannot be erased,” “Fuck Hum 110,” “Stop silencing black and brown voices; the rest of society is already standing on their necks,” and so on. The signs are often accompanied by photos of black Americans killed by police.
Faculty complained, other students complained, but it was met on deaf ears. The school newspaper was too afraid to publish anything against the students and any criticism of them was always anonymous, for fear of a backlash.
Until freshmen students who were “people of color” decided they had had enough. That started this school year.
The turning point was the derailment of the Hum lecture on August 28, the first day of classes. As the Humanities 110 program chair, Elizabeth Drumm, introduced a panel presentation, three RAR leaders took to the stage and ignored her objections. Drumm canceled the lecture—a first since the boycott. Using a panelist’s microphone, a leader told the freshmen, “[Our] work is just as important as the work of the faculty, so we were going to introduce ourselves as well.”
The pushback from freshmen first came over Facebook. “To interrupt a lecture in a classroom setting is in serious violation of academic freedom and is just unthoughtful and wrong,” wrote a student from China named Sicheng, who distributed a letter of dissent against RAR. Another student, Isabel, ridiculed the group for its “unsolicited emotional theater.”
The leftist student group staged another protest on the anniversary of their first, but instead of the 400 student protesters, fewer than a quarter of that showed up. RAR is losing its power, and you can thank minority students – the younger classmen – for standing up to them.