Students today are no stranger to protests taking place on their campuses. Higher education’s practice of infantilizing students—grown adults—with safe spaces, counseling if they encounter contrary ideas, and a litany of other leftist asylum activities has all but guaranteed routine protests. Helicopter administrators train students to react with violence to new or different ideas, rather than reason through them with logic. Yet some apparently don’t think there’s any problem with America’s campuses. Enter Chris Ladd, a Forbes contributor, who recently penned a column titled “There Is No Free Speech Crisis On Campus.” One immediately wonders if Mr. Ladd has set foot on a campus (ever?) and why he chooses to call the systematic suppression of diverse (almost always conservative) ideas a “phony crisis manufactured by the same people who fuel the engines of climate denial.” Here’s what Ladd gets wrong in his column
: “Right wing activists and donors are fighting to undermine universities because their values cannot thrive there.”
This idea that conservative ideas can’t thrive at universities is pure fallacy, as any one of Young America’s Foundation’s sold-out, standing room only campus lectures prove. Rather than undermining universities, YAF has trained and equipped generations of student activists to advance freedom since 1960. Young America’s Foundation and its nationwide network of activists are doing more to enhance the educational environment on their campuses than administrators themselves. Through YAF’s nationwide campus lecture program, students are restoring intellectual diversity and the free and open exchange of ideas to their schools. “Modern conservatism is failing on campus because it shrivels in an atmosphere of intelligent, open debate.”
If campuses created an “atmosphere of intelligent, open debate,” Young America’s Foundation would have accomplished its mission. This rose-colored glasses claim that universities are institutions of higher learning where all ideas are given a fair hearing betrays the authors complete lack of experience on or knowledge of today’s campuses. Ladd next sets about discrediting eye-opening statistics gleaned from a poll about students’ view of free speech and contrary ideas with a feeble attempt to brush aside the results claiming the poll, funded by the Koch Brothers, was “crafted to prove a point rather than an [sic] investigate a hypothesis.” Ladd is correct on the source of funds, but fails to recognize that the poll itself was conducted by the Brookings Institution’s John Villasenor, who designed the survey questions, then had UCLA itself contract with another vendor to collect the data. The Koch Brothers had zero bearing on the poll questions, methodology, or outcome. The results in the poll are as scientific and straightforward as they come. Furthermore, Brookings is helmed by Strobe Talbott, buddy to President and Secretary Clinton, and certainly not one to give any help to the straw-man conservative trying to prove a point that Ladd conjures up in his piece. Even if money was a factor (again, it wasn’t) in determining the outcome of the poll, that amount would pale in comparison to the millions upon millions of dollars liberals spend to foist leftist ideologies on college students. “There is no public space in America more open to diverse opinions than our college campuses.”
YAF events at California State University-Los Angeles, The George Washington University, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Kansas, DePaul University, the University of Notre Dame, Trinity University, University of Utah, Southern Methodist University, and Canada College (to name a few) would beg to differ. They’ve all had lecture and activism events blocked, shouted down, or protested (sometimes violently) by leftist students, staff, or administrators. “In a rich marketplace of ideas, conservatives are failing, and they are not losing with dignity.”
This is an outrageous claim that stands opposite the record of successful events breaking the blockade of liberal orthodoxy YAF students have built. In the last year, the New York Times called YAF “The conservative force,” the New York Post Editorial Board referred to YAFers as a “Reaganite bunch,” and headlines across the country covered YAF’s work with bold students to bring intellectual diversity in the form of conservative ideas to schools nationwide. In a ideologically depraved marketplace of stale and disproven liberal ideas, conservatives are winning, more so each semester. “Right wing speakers have to be foisted onto universities from the outside.”
Yet another incorrect assertion made by someone without knowledge of the youth conservative movement, being spearheaded by YAF students, to bring conservative ideas to America’s campuses. Young America’s Foundation’s campus lecture program, the largest and most successful in the nation, operates in a very simple way:
- Student reaches out to Young America’s Foundation to host a speaker of their choice from our roster of 85+ leading conservatives.
- Young America’s Foundation helps student invite the speaker of their choice, plan and work through administrative bureaucracy and leftist opposition, and execute a successful event.
Ladd’s “boogey man” image of conservative campus speakers is absurd, but he doesn’t stop there. This misfire of a column insults the elderly, citizens of Alabama, and the hardworking YAF students who push back against a tsunami of leftist persecution simply for taking a stand as the visible presence of the Conservative Movement.