Jan Blits on Campus Liberty

Ashley Thorne

Jan Blits, NAS's Delaware affiliate head, was a keynote speaker at FIRE's recent Campus Freedom Network conference for college students. Minding the Campus has the full text of his speech.

Professor Blits tells the story of the residence life reeducation program at the University of Delaware that he and his colleague Linda Gottfredson helped end. He describes the administrators' obsession with identity groups:

Throughout the program, at every opportunity students were told that their identity, first and foremost, is not “human,” but this or that ethnic, racial, religious or sexual group: “Native American,” “Hispanic,” “black,” “Asian,” “white,” “male,” “female,” “Muslim,” “Hindu,” “gay,” straight,” and so on.

And he warns about the new mindset among campus personnel that "everyone is an educator" and that programs such as residence life should have their own curricula:

Until very recently, those who ran college dorms were interested in student housing, dining, safety, study breaks, health, home-sickness and other such matters. However, many of those running dorms, today, have a new, grandiose mission, which they’ve appropriated for themselves. These Residence Life administrators regard themselves as educators—in fact, as their institution’s real educators. While faculty, in their view, do nothing more than fill students with facts, the Residence Life administrators shape the whole human being, they say.  Faculty may shape careers, but Residence Life shapes souls. In their view, the college or university has no higher mission than soul-craft, and Residence Life is best prepared to fulfill it.

NAS drew attention to this trend after it became evident in the University of Delaware case.

Professor Blits closed by urging students not to take liberty for granted:

We must not take for granted that we’ll enjoy liberty tomorrow just because we enjoy it today. On the contrary, complacency invites suppression, and acquiescence accepts it. Citizens, both on and off the campus, must be alert to encroachments, strong in resisting them, confident in their love of liberty, and resolute in stepping forward to protect it.

Read Professor Blits's whole speech here.

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