The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will be offering a new class in Spring 2019, and it’s one guaranteed to make waves (or, in this case, snowdrifts). It’s called, “Bigot and Snowflakes: Living in a World Where Everyone Else is Wrong”
Offered as a Sociology class, it doesn’t hide the fact that, “In this class, we will directly address questions surrounding viewpoint diversity.” The course description goes on to say, “The course is built on two foundational premises. The first is that there is a lack of viewpoint diversity in higher education; recent survey data confirm this trend.” A recent study done by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) found that 90% of American colleges infringe on students’ free speech rights on campus.
If that didn’t already bowl you over, the course description goes on to finish just as forcefully: “The second assertion is that this lack of diversity damages the mission of higher education. Inherent in the definition of viewpoint diversity is the principle that there is a spectrum of perspectives ranging, politically speaking, from staunchly conservative on one end to radically progressive on the other – and that the voicing of perspectives falling along that spectrum without social penalty is integral to a healthy society.”
Hats off to Professor Ilana Redstone Akresh for the courage to jam a stick right in the hornets’ nest. It does our students no favors to shield them from anything that might give them the slightest discomfort or indicate that their viewpoint is not the only one in the world. We can all hope this is the beginning of things to come.