When Bryan Stascavage, an Iraq war veteran and Wesleyan University student wrote an op-ed criticizing the tactics and violent rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter movement, he had no idea it would make national headlines.
“It boils down to this for me: If vilification and denigration of the police force continues to be a significant portion of Black Lives Matter’s message, then I will not support the movement, I cannot support the movement. And many Americans feel the same,” Stascavage wrote.
“Is it worth another riot that destroys a downtown district? Another death, another massacre? At what point will Black Lives Matter go back to the drawing table and rethink how they are approaching the problem?” he questioned.
The column sparked outrage among campus liberals who started a petition to defund the newspaper for running the column unless they meet certain criteria. While most college administrations are first in line to hop on the outrage bandwagon, the Wesleyan University administration’s official response might surprise you.
“Debates can raise intense emotions, but that doesn’t mean that we should demand ideological conformity because people are made uncomfortable,” Wesleyan University President Michael Roth wrote in a blog post along with Provost Joyce Jacobsen and Vice-President for Equity and Inclusion, Antonio Farias.
“As members of a university community, we always have the right to respond with our own opinions, but there is no right not to be offended,” said the post, titled “Black Lives Matter and So Does Free Speech.”
Intellectual disagreement and debate used to be the cornerstone of higher education. These days, independent thinking seems to be the exception not the rule.
Bravo to the Wesleyan University leadership. It’s refreshing to see there are still some college and university administrators who believe that the ability to have a free and open discussion is a virtue, while intellectual conformity is an enemy of true progress.