Schools get millions of tax dollars despite killing free speech, GOP demands answers

(Photo by Joe Kovacs)
(Photo by Joe Kovacs)

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Republican members of Congress are demanding a briefing from the Biden administration’s Department of Education over its practice of giving tax dollars, “under various federal programs,” to colleges and universities that are “undermining free speech and academic freedom.”

Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are at issue in the dispute.

The problem relates to leftists in higher education who allow, even advocate for, violations of the First Amendment’s protection for speech to satisfy their political ideologies.

In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Rep. James Comer, the ranking member of the committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Virginia Foxx, the ranking member of Education and Labor, request the briefing to continue their “important oversight of the department’s administration of funds for higher education.”

The request could move further shortly, as the Republican party is expected to become the majority in the House after the midterms elections in a few weeks, and those “ranking members” could then become the chairmen of the committees.

They explain in the letter that educational institutions “are places where faculty and students should test, develop and fine tune theories, thoughts, and ideas.”

In fact, those schools now often are “stifling” three thought and expression.

“Often school administrators suppress academic thought because it does not align with ever-changing norms of political correctness. Administrators at Yale Law School threatened to interfere with one student’s ability to pass the character and fitness examination for his bar license unless he apologized to a student group for an email. St. Louis University disbursed student fees among student organizations discriminately, based on political or ideological affiliation. Certain faculty at University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University Law Center, and Princeton University have been placed on administrative leave or faced threats of termination or indefinite ‘investigations’ for expressing their opinions outside the classroom on social media,” they wrote.

“A further motivation for such administrative actions taken against faculty and students for expressing their thoughts and opinions are pressure campaigns from student groups encouraging censorship. This is no way to run an institution for frank and honest intellectual discourse. Incidents at public universities such as University of Washington, University of Michigan, and University of Arizona mirror those at private universities. At University of Washington, a computer science professor was disciplined for refusing to include a controversial ‘indigenous land acknowledgement’ statement on his course syllabi. In another case, it took a federal lawsuit for University of Michigan to disband its ‘bias response team’ which was dampening free speech by seeking out and reporting student conduct that was considered ‘hostile’ or ‘biased’ against certain groups.

“This past spring, disruptive student protesters shut down a speech by constitutional law scholar Ilya Shapiro at University of California, Hastings College of the Law. In fact, student protesters routinely try to disrupt and even shut down campus speakers. U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an instructor at Arizona State University, was harassed even in the bathroom by protestors who were upset with her voting record. All of these instances exemplify how common it has become to disrupt speech,” the letter said.

Even threats have been tolerated, if they are against the conservative point of view, the letter said.

“For instance, on June 25, 2022, a Harvard Law School instructor tweeted the following: ‘The 6 justices who overturned Roe should never know peace again. It is out civi duty to accost them every time they are in public. They are pariahs. Since women don’t have their rights, these justices should never have a peaceful moment again.'”

The Free Beacon said the Republicans want to know what steps, “if any,” the Biden administration has taken to protect freedoms on campuses.

Part of the reason for the problem is that on campuses, liberals and extremists on the left outnumber moderate and conservative individuals by many times. Among administrators the ratio is 12 to one.

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