Murray demands 'suspension or expulsion' of Middlebury rioters
Charles Murray is demanding the “suspension or expulsion” of the Middlebury College students who participated in violent riots during his recent visit to campus.
“To me, the aftermath of the Middlebury affair is a case study in a sickness of American higher education: Hand-wringing in the face of a toxic threat to the university,” Murray writes in a post published Monday on the American Enterprise Institute’s AEIdeas blog.
Murray was recently forced to deliver a speech via closed circuit television when student protesters forcefully shut down his original on-campus venue, after which a liberal professor had to be hospitalized when demonstrators assaulted her as she attempted to escort Murray out of the building.
Despite the severity of the situation, Murray complains that “not one single solitary person” was actually punished for participating in the riots.
As Middlebury President Laurie Patton acknowledged in The Wall Street Journal, administrators merely imposed a toothless “probation” on 74 students, while the most flagrant offenders got away with nothing more serious than “a letter in their permanent file, which Murray contends is not even equivalent to a slap on the wrist.
“‘Probation’ at Middlebury doesn’t mean a weekly meeting with your probation officer and random drug tests,” Murray points out. “It just means a temporary mark on your record that is expunged if there is no further violation.”
Similarly, he contends that placing a permanent note in the files of the most disruptive protesters is unlikely to have any long-term negative impact, and could even work to the students’ advantage because their involvement in the protest “will be a plus in the eyes of the admissions committees for many graduate programs,” and is unlikely to significantly influence most hiring decisions.
“Employers? Most won’t notice. Some will be amused,” he predicts. “No one is going to say ‘Oh, we can’t hire this person. He was in a student protest a few years ago.’”
Murray explains that he had initially abstained from weighing in on the question of repercussions in order to avoid complicating the disciplinary process at Middlebury, but now feels compelled to do so because he feels that the school’s response will only encourage similar acts of violence in the future, as evidenced by the continued online harassment of faculty members who have defended his right to free speech.
While he does praise Patton for giving a “fine statement” endorsing the principles of free expression, Murray argues that “it was not a message calculated to make students think she would come down on them like a ton of bricks if they strayed out of line.”
A more effective response, he suggests, would have been for Patton to suspend each of the students identified among the protesters for the duration of the semester, and to permanently expel any students proven to have taken part in assault and battery.
“I call for suspension or expulsion because we’re not talking about students acting a little too boisterously or students whose worthy motives should mitigate their treatment,” Murray explains. “In my view, preventing a person from peacefully presenting a point of view on a university campus is analogous to killing a person in a community, in this limited sense: Both acts are challenges to the most elemental functions of those institutions.”
Murray concludes by arguing that the social justice “agenda” is “incompatible” with the search for truth, which he deems the foremost priority of any college or university.
“A university must be a safe place for intellectual freedom, else it has failed in its purpose,” he declares [emphasis his]. “To respond to violations of that haven as the administration of Middlebury has responded is not a matter of being too soft on students. It is dereliction of duty.”
Spokespersons for Middlebury declined to comment on Murray's criticisms of the disciplinary process when contacted by Campus Reform.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter @Toni_Airaksinen