Free speech has become a contentious issue on college campuses. In an age of inflamed rhetoric — both online and off — a fundamental principle of liberal arts education is being tested in new ways. Right-wing provocateurs like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos, and more traditional conservatives like Charles Murray, have been met with protests on campus, some of which have turned violent.
The New York Times asked college students to weigh in with solutions and thoughts on this issue: The goal of provoking conversation worked, but it came at a heavy price. Afterward, many students associated our organization solely with the Yiannopoulos event. That was extremely unfortunate as the aim of the event was more a demonstration of free expression than any endorsement of what he had to say.
There is a Catch-22 with inflammatory speakers: A campus visit may embolden their supporters, but so does barring the visit.