Those voices are still being stifled, even if the disinvitation craze is abating.
Has the college-speaker-disinvitation craze ended? Some would have you believe so. The Niskanen Center proclaimed that “the campus free speech crisis” ended in 2018. In 2019, Commentary magazine optimistically argued that things were “looking up on campus.” The numbers seem to support this view. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), university disinvitations peaked in 2016 and have slowly declined since. However, my experience at Princeton University has taught me that the attack on free speech is hardly over. Conservative voices are still being stifled on campus, only now through more-cunning methods.
As president of the right-leaning party of Princeton University’s American Whig-Cliosophic Society, the oldest collegiate literary, political, and debate society in the nation, I am responsible for bringing conservative speakers and voices to the heart of Princeton’s political scene. In 2020, I tried to do my job, only to be shut down by an intolerant Left.
Several months ago, I submitted a list of potential speakers to the American Whig-Cliosophic Society’s Speakers Council. They flagged a number of my speakers as controversial and decided to put them to a vote before the group’s student Governing Council, in accordance with procedures laid out to prevent a repeat of a 2018 disinvitation incident. My “provocative” speakers included Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner (and Princeton alumnus) George Will and Neomi Rao, a former law professor and currently a circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Predictably, none of the left-leaning party’s choices, including extreme progressives such as bell hooks and provocateurs such as Jamelle Bouie, were deemed controversial enough for further review.