Kicking Out Disagreement is Hindering Learning in the Classroom

By Morgan Kimbarow

Last week, a student was asked to leave class because he challenged his professor. No, this is not The Onion reporting -yes, that actually happened.

Lake Ingle, a college student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania was asked to leave class because he said that biologically there are only two genders and that the gender wage gap did not exist.

Professor Allison Downie removed him from class, then proceeded to go on a crusade of barring the student because he refused to apologize for his remarks. If he were to apologize, he could return to class, but would not be allowed to speak while students in the class expressed their dissent of his comments.

Ingle refused the terms of the agreement, and in turn Downie attempted to permanently bar him from class by reporting him to the Academic Integrity Board.

This incident is one of many that has shown that free speech is under attack on college campuses. More than 6 in 10 college students say their campus climate is too hostile for free speech. This is an alarmingly ironic trend because colleges should be encouraging the intellectual discourse of opposing ideas.

The absence of free dialogue has caused many students to avoid challenging professors’ viewpoints altogether. It was once considered a noble endeavor to challenge one another intellectually, to engage in genuinely respectful conversations which could lead to disagreements. Historically, those conversations bore the fruit of new ideas and development.

However, the modern age has replaced intellectual discourse with intellectual tyranny in which some professors are resorting to fascistic tendencies in order to prevent students from standing up for themselves. Conservative and libertarians students have to tread lightly when expressing themselves, because professors with a dissenting bias, like Downie, may target them.

A Gallup poll revealed that 92 percent of students believed that liberals were able to express their views, while only 69 percent of students felt conservatives could do the same. Students are afraid of challenging the status quo in their classrooms because they could potentially face consequences similar to Lake Ingles. If students are not encouraged to think for themselves, are they actually being encouraged to learn or are they being indoctrinated?

As administrations continue to struggle, we as students need to be aware of the intellectual environments we are entering. Once the paragon of liberty, the modern college campus is  changing in ways contrary to its mission.

IUP is just one example of how certain professors will resort to authoritarian methods against their students. It is important to note that not all  professors will react in the same way. However, given that this is an increasing trend, such news should be unsettling. Just take a look at Campus Reform for a plethora of similar incidents.

Such incidents should be of great concern to students and professors alike. If students are fearful of standing up for themselves, intellectual discourse will be moot. If professors will continue to shut out opposing ideas from students, then students will never grow intellectually.

We must bring back the values of liberty on college campuses and ensure they are upheld. Liberty is the ultimate right given to us in the Constitution. Our democratic values of liberty support the idea of freedom being preserved in our country. If students do not have the freedom to express themselves, America’s values of liberty will inevitably begin to erode.