UNIVERSITY should be all about learning, but what is in store for unaware eighteen-year-olds is a whole new bag of tricks. I learnt this in the not-too-distant past upon arriving at one of England’s most prestigious educational institutions. It greeted me with the assumption that I would be restless to begin the Black History Month celebrations, and numerous student bodies made their Marxist credentials coherent and clear.
Calls for ‘introspection’ are plentifully distributed to new white undergraduates throughout campus, almost as if the only purpose of being there is so that I realise my white privilege and fight against it with all my might. The comparisons to the Christian doctrine of original sin are striking: at the centre of this doctrine is the idea that we are all guilty before God from birth because of the sin of the first humans, and it is only through conversion that we gain the God-given power to do good.
Through re-education, I will not just be a Bachelor of Arts but also a converted sinner that understands his inherent wrongdoing towards ‘people of colour’.
Living in this sub-culture is a minefield, where one must trace one’s path before placing the first step. Silence is allowed, and if you do not openly oppose these things you are considered compliant which is why speaking out is so self-destructive. Opposition or even suggesting an alternative perspective is considered blasphemy – you oppose at your peril.
Of course, many students don’t view the world in this radical way and those who impose the ideology on others are few. Yet these few are powerful enough to set the tenor of a whole institution’s culture. They are bold and audacious for their cause whilst the many with reservations opt for the convenient silence, hoping that their air of conformity will mean they are passed over by the eye of re-education.
Here we find the irony of the safe spaces debate. If a ‘safe space’ is a location where you can express a view freely without the fear of discrimination in response, British campuses ceased to be ‘safe spaces’ for conservatives a long time ago. This is not a complaint. If you do not want to answer challenges and critiques to your beliefs, then you probably shouldn’t hold them. We often remove contrary voices from our presence when we suspect we could be wrong – I fear this is at the heart of the whole movement.
If universities are to remain places of learning, communities where young people are taught how to think instead of exactly what to think, we must stand up for freedom to speak otherwise. Thus we establish the principle of freedom and liberty: the right to think for oneself.