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What We’re Reading: November 2022 

Our top 10 reads this month include coverage of the local campus impact of the Harvard University and University of North Carolina U.S. Supreme Court cases as well as coverage of a state attorney general requesting email messages from a professor and senior administrator at a public university.

Campus Happenings

Conservative Student Group Wins Injunction Over ‘Discriminatory Treatment’ at Clovis College
Tim Sheehan | The Fresno Bee | October 18, 2022

The Clovis Community College Young Americans for Freedom club sued school officials, after the college president allegedly ordered its anti-Communist flyers to be removed and the club was refused permission to post anti-abortion flyers. A U.S. District judge granted the students a preliminary injunction that bars the college from banning “inappropriate or offensive language or themes.” The judge wrote that since the college approved other flyers, it cannot claim “unbridled discretion over the content of student flyers.”

Penn State Event Featuring Proud Boys Founder Canceled Due To ‘Threat of Escalating Violence’
CDT Staff Reports | Central Daily Times | October 25, 2022

Pennsylvania State University campus police canceled an event with leaders of the Proud Boys citing a “threat of escalating violence.” Hundreds protested the event, which was sponsored by Uncensored America, a registered student organization. University President Neeli Bendapudi lamented, “the message too many people will walk away with is that one can manipulate people to generate free publicity, or that one can restrict speech by escalating protest to violence.”

Affirmative Action Ignites Tension Among College Students, Alumni
Meena Venkataramanan | The Washington Post | October 31, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court Harvard University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill affirmative action cases are creating national headlines. For students and alumni of these two universities, however, these are intensely local events. Supporters and opponents of race-conscious admissions both describe anxiety and fear: for supporters, fear that students from historically underrepresented groups would no longer as easily be able to “find people who look like [themselves]” on campus; for opponents, “fear of being canceled.”

State and Federal

‘Attempted Intimidation’: Missouri AG Sent Five Requests for MSU Emails, Records
Tessa Weinberg | Missouri Independent | October 19, 2022

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, recently elected U.S. Senator, requested the email correspondence of a Missouri State University professor, who had criticized Schmitt on the professor’s personal email account, and a vice president. The professor described the request as “attempted intimidation,” while Schmitt’s spokesperson said the request was “part of a fact-finding process we undertook that was looking into the practices and policies of education in our state.”

Op-eds and Thought Pieces

A Majority of Americans Oppose Laws that Regulate College Professors’ Speech in the Classroom
Eli McKown-Dawson | YouGov America | October 14, 2022

“Among Americans overall, a majority (54%) oppose laws that regulate what college professors can discuss in class.” Opposition was higher among Democrats (59%), those over the age of 65 (68%), and those who attended college (61%). Younger adults were more likely to support laws regulating professors’ classroom speech.

Moderate Students are Most Marginalized in Political Discussions on Campuses | Opinion
Eli McKown-Dawson | Tallahassee Democrat | October 16, 2022

An undergraduate and research assistant at the DeVoe L. Moore Center, a public policy think tank at Florida State University, draws on the Center’s research to report that “students whose ideologies are more important to their identities were more comfortable expressing themselves on campus, regardless of whether they were liberal or conservative.”

I Was Fired from NYU After Students Complained that the Class was too Hard. Who’s Next?
Maitland Jones Jr. | The Boston Globe | October 20, 2022

Maitland Jones Jr., who was dismissed from the New York University faculty after students complained that his organic chemistry course was too hard, writes: “overwhelmingly important is the chilling effect of such intervention by administrators on teaching overall and especially on untenured professors.”

Yale’s Perplexing Invitation to Judicial Bullies
Steven Lubet | The Hill | November 2, 2022

Responding to U.S. Circuit Court Judge James Ho’s call upon his fellow federal judges not to hire clerks from Yale Law School because of the school’s “cancel culture,” the author, a Williams Memorial Professor Emeritus at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, accuses Ho of judicial misconduct, by “dangling the prospect of clerkships before some students and withholding them from others to coerce Yale’s administrators into changing their practices.” Ho’s call has been endorsed by other federal judges.

Big Reads

What Can Professors Say in Public? Extramural Speech and the First Amendment
Keith E. Whittington | Social Science Research Network | October 21, 2022

The chair of Academic Committee of the Academic Freedom Alliance and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University maintains that constitutional and contractual protections for extramural speech must be reconsidered in this period of national polarization and social media. He notes that “intellectual ecosystems are fragile,” argues that the collegiate mission depends on fostering the widest possible intellectual inquiry, and that universities should not discipline faculty even for “stupid, foul, or hateful” extramural speech.

Two Teachers of Intellectual Hygiene: Norberto Bobbio and Raymond Aron On The Role Of The Intellectuals In Modern Society
Aurelian Craiutu and Maurizio Griffo | Journal of Political Ideologies | October 27, 2022

The authors, both scholars of political philosophy, ask what role public intellectuals can “play in our post-truth age.” Public intellectuals engage in performative speech and crave recognition and power; too often “brilliant minds” are “reckless political figures.” Comparing our fraught politics with those of the Cold War, they point to Noberto Bobbio and Raymond Aron as public intellectuals who were “teachers of intellectual hygiene” by modeling how to converse with those with whom one disagrees, distinguish between persons and ideas, and “defend liberal democracy without exaggerating its virtues or ignoring its limitations.”

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