For years, whenever Europeans wanted to impress guests, they would say, “I studied at Harvard.” These days, however, to impress guests and gain their respect, it is better to say, “And I didn’t study at Harvard!” The “2024 College Free Speech Rankings” by College Pulse and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) offers results that should shock us — because there seems to exist almost nothing left of the spirit in which universities were once founded by European Christian monks back in the Middle Ages, and which constituted a restricted community between students and professors to train and to teach how to think, research, and debate, activities that could never be achieved outside of an environment of freedom. It is shocking to read the report and discover that advocating that abortion is not a right or that climate change is not man made, or suggesting that the best treatment for gender transitions is a psychiatric one, is subject to immediate cancellation by both authorities and students. There is no longer any freedom in the institution that one day was born precisely to endow us with it.
It should surprise no one that the Catholic Church was the main promoter of those primitive universities (not so different from those of today in their organization and purpose), as historian Lowrie Daly points out when he affirms that it was “the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge.” Today, evil historians have rewritten history to denigrate Christians who sowed that cultural germ in Europe, and, although the myth that the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages has triumphed, the truth is that never did so much light shine on the Old Continent. Without those universities, we would never have had a Western civilization to be proud of.
Today, on the contrary, an alarming number of universities are competing to renounce the great purpose of the medieval university: to teach how to think, to debate freely, to achieve excellence. Today many of the most important universities in the world teach only to repeat like parrots a few stupid slogans from the Woke Catechism, the basic textbook of any faculty. Biology, philosophy, history, or art — everything is subdued and perverted under the yoke of contemporary extreme-left single thought.
So, I’m not surprised that the results of the survey of free speech at American universities yield frightening statistics — and testimonials. The five universities with the least freedom are Harvard (oh surprise!), Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgetown, and Fordham, but, really, with only a few exceptions, the rest on the list are not much better.
The report includes dozens of testimonials from students who were expelled from the university for comments posted on their own social networks (since when can you be expelled for what you do outside of academia?), surveys in which high percentages of students consider it highly important to verbally assault or otherwise disrupt a lecture by someone who doesn’t agree with their ideas (it’s as if suddenly all students are BLM militants), and the accounts of those denouncing how they are forced to use every damn pronoun in the woke universe before heading every sentence (Professor Jordan Peterson, you’re screwed, my friend).
Universities are throwing into the world a bunch of idiotized zombies, whose only real conquest in life is public approval and belonging to the herd. Students leave university without aspiring at all to freedom; they leave feeling at home in slavery, even seeming delighted with it. The worst thing about the Left is always the same: it manages to make slaves feel comfortable with their condition by taking away any hope that another life is possible.
In the medieval school it was not enough to memorize. Those early universities demanded extensive knowledge of arts and sciences, skill in handling logic, and the ability to debate in all possible directions and make a defense, to finally be corrected in their mistakes by the teacher, whose erudition was not only undoubted but aroused in itself respect and admiration.
Universities make sense if they teach, if they respect their original vocation, if they make students better. The woke university of deceit, the cancellation of pro-lifers, and the total absence of academic freedom can go to hell and let the world go on spinning exactly the same way. What’s more, maybe that will even help us breathe easier.
Translated by Joel Dalmau.