Once again, I am utterly ashamed of my alma mater, and specifically, the School of Journalism and Communications at Carleton University.
Students were complaining about an advisor’s lack of office hours on the Spotted at Carleton U Facebook page, and the School of Journalism took it upon themselves to send threatening letters to everyone who commented on the page.
I hopefully don’t need to point out the irony in the Journalism department trying to stifle freedom of speech. But I am not terribly surprised — while I was a student there, I was constantly told not to write about certain subjects, or that certain viewpoints shouldn’t be given coverage because those people were wrong. In one example, I had a journalism professor compare climate change scientists who disagreed with the IPCC consesus to holocaust deniers — an attack on the National Post, who had just published a series of articles outlining dissenting opinions.
Speaking of the Holocaust, the other departments at Carleton weren’t much better. I once had the chair of the history department explain in a class why “some people” think the Holocaust never happened. In the same breath, he went on to explain why George W. Bush was worse than Hitler.
In a political science class, I had a TA dock my essay marks, because I refused to state in a paper that Tim Hudak was a homophobe and a misogynist. As someone who took part in the Ontario PC leadership race, had met Tim Hudak personally, and went on to work for him for several years, I was obviously not going to say such an absurd thing about a good man.
Myself, and several other conservatives in the class, all received awful marks on that assignment. After doing a little bit of research, we found that same TA was a member of such Facebook groups as “Counting down the days until Margaret Thatcher dies”, and other fashionably hateful groups attacking conservatives. When I approached my professor about this, he bumped my grade up 5% and called it a day — and there were absolutely no consequences for the TA.
It is amazing that so many universities can get away with such tremendous intellectual dishonesty. A university should be the best place in the world for open, honest, intellectual discussions. Instead, they have become a place where groupthink has become the norm, and dissenting viewpoints are silenced.
While I was at the university, I saw the very worst of what it had to offer in the form of student government. Our student association gained international notoriety for its preposterous decision to stop funding a cystic fibrosis fundraiser because the disease allegedly “only affects white men.” At the time, I was quite angry about it, and the students who were responsible. But in retrospect, it was made possible by the faculty and the administration, who have created a hostile, anti-intellectual environment, where these kind of ideas thrive, and independent thinkers are made to suffer.
And the worst possible place for that type of thinking to take hold is at the School of Journalism and Communications — where freedom of speech should be valued above all else. If students aren’t safe to ask for better office hours, what on earth will they be safe to talk about?
The school needs to publicly apologize to the students it threatened or risk its reputation being tarnished forever.