Tuition without representation

If I told you about an oppressed minority student who cried for change, wouldn’t you fight for him?

Wouldn’t you rally behind a kid who dared to start his own newspaper, only later to invoke the ire and suppression of intolerant authorities who curtailed his distribution rights?

And if I told you this person, Will Rogers of Oregon State University, was actually a white conservative, would you still take his side?

Perhaps not so eagerly. Such are today’s double standards in the Age of Obama. Ostensibly, Rogers’ case seems a simple one. Several years ago, he started an alternative student newspaper, The Liberty, that enjoys a modest readership and is a legitimate conservative voice on campus. But, earlier this month, the university confiscated all seven of the paper’s distribution bins and tossed them into a local field, citing ADA and maintenance issues. Oregon State specifically indicated a concern about the bins adding to litter on campus, which was ironically “fixed” when the bins themselves were disposed of as refuse.

Given the details of the case, the university’s alleged justification for removing (and destroying) The Liberty’s property seems ludicrous. Whether the action represents true censorship is debatable. What is obvious, however, is the larger issue at hand.

In order to avoid controversy on college campuses, students’ First Amendment rights now are subordinate to political correctness. Students may say and think what they wish, so long as school administrators deem such material acceptable. According to today’s misplaced priorities in higher education, students’ voices always come second, and even then, apparently some voices are deemed unworthy of consideration. The so-called “liberal” arts have become a farce in which traditional education is overwrought with highfalutin administrative policies and agendas that stifle freedom of the mind.

In line with this notion, schools preach diversity and tolerance, but their application of such ideals remains purposefully selective. Oregon State’s mission statement says that the school “value(s) diversity because it enhances … education and provides tools to be culturally respectful, professionally competent and civilly responsible.” Is a diversity of print news sources excluded from this declaration? According to the U.S. Constitution, which allows for free speech, it shouldn’t be.

College students today are typically characterized as complacent, self-absorbed consumers who crave instant gratification. In light of this stereotype, one would think a school would praise a grassroots newspaper like The Liberty founded by creative, conscientious students. An institution promoting liberty may even consider funding such a project to promote more such ingenuity in the future.

Not Oregon State, who apparently views students with minority viewpoints only as nuisances to be reigned in. Such actions on the part of a college administration may seem inconsequential (Oh, c’mon, what are a few bins, after all?), but that doesn’t make their precedent any less disturbing.

A university cutting students’ locks and disposing of personal property with no prior warning indicates administrative recklessness as well as a dangerous lack of respect for the students the school purportedly educates. Does Oregon State think that The Liberty and the views it espouses are trash, fodder only for squirrels and birds? Why else would the school display such carelessness toward student authors’ opinions and hard labor?

It is easy in today’s world to roll your eyes when someone shouts hypocrisy, but the Oregon State example shouldn’t be ignored. As soon as college administrations are allowed to be intellectual garbage men, “cleaning up” campus by dumping minority views, one must fear for the future of education in this country.