I suppose it should be soothing to know that not only Yale and Harvard are Ivy League schools dedicated to ideological indoctrination, but that Dartmouth is a player too. I’m kind of a glass-half-empty kind of guy these days though.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has had to step in to battle Dartmouth over heavy-handed censorship of its College Republicans group. In January, the school unilaterally canceled the student organization’s live in-person event featuring conservative journalist Andy Ngo, forcing it online based on unspecified “concerning information” from the Hanover police. Queried by FIRE, the Hanover police denied that such concerns came from them. Now Dartmouth has informed the College Republicans that they owe $3,600 in security-related charges for the Andy Ngo event, which only took place online.
Those Zoom police are expensive.
If the student GOP fans don’t pay up, Dartmouth says, they won’t be allowed to have any campus events at all. This obvious content-based censorship prompted another protest from FIRE. FIRE’s letter says in part:
Requiring the College Republicans to pay for the costs of security for its event imposes a financial burden on a student group based on the controversial nature of a group or event’s expression. In doing so, Dartmouth allows for, and indeed incentivizes, the exercise of a “heckler’s veto” by anyone wishing to silence that student group’s controversial or unpopular expression—this, on top of Dartmouth’s original capitulation to the heckler’s veto when it canceled the in-person Ngo event. Dartmouth’s actions here impermissibly align the college with those who would threaten unlawful conduct over the clear expressive rights of its own students.
As FIRE notes on its website,
Dartmouth students] face a difficult choice when choosing campus speakers: incur excessive security fees, self-censor expression that may anger others, or speak while threatened with deplatforming or censorship. This dilemma is impermissible at colleges — like Dartmouth — that promise students robust expressive rights….
When higher education institutions promise students free expression, longstanding judicial interpretations of the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and association set useful baselines for what rights students reasonably expect on campus. As we told Dartmouth, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Sonnier v. Crain is instructive: There, the court invalidated Southeastern Louisiana University’s policy that allowed the university unfettered discretion to charge security fees, and lacked objective factors for the university to follow.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, though not related to a university, explains that varying fees for events based on how much police protection the government expects the event to require places the burden on the speaker to pay more for speech that others may deem controversial.
So why do Dartmouth and other institutions keep doing things like this? One tempting theory is that they do it because they are more committed to pushing society and culture toward the political, partisan and ideological goals its administrators and faculty favor than to their supposed goal of education. These schools are transparent allies of a progressive/socialist/Marxist movement that is hostile to core individual rights when they threaten to hinder what their leaders regard a necessary overhaul of the United States that must be achieved “by any means necessary.”
The alternative theory is that these schools are run by weak, pliable, principle-free weenies who are terrified of their own radical Left students.