As summer comes to a close, and we begin a new school year, we, as students at Trent University, must confront an uncomfortable truth – post-secondary education, in recent years, has largely abandoned dedication to intellectual and academic honesty, and has instead veered towards dedication to an extreme form of progressive-left political ideology.
We need only look no further than the controversy we saw erupt at the University of Toronto last year when Dr. Jordan Peterson, a tenured and well respected professor with the university’s department of psychology, dared challenge the Ontario government’s Orwellian “gender identity” laws which compel everyday citizens to refer to individuals by their chosen gender pronouns. For his efforts in maintaining societal sanity, Dr. Peterson has since been branded a part of the so-called “Alt Right,” has been called a “far right” ideologue, and has had his position with the University of Toronto implicitly threatened by the school’s department of human resources.
Throughout most of last year, there were controversies at a number of universities across the continent where conservative speakers were prevented from expressing their constitutionally protected right to free speech and deliver lectures when invited to do so by student groups.
Most notable among these controversies was when right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was prevented from speaking at the University of California’s Berkeley campus last February due to a riot perpetrated by far-left activists, and members of a group known as Antifa. Antifa, also known as Anti-Fascist Action, is an extreme-left paramilitary group which gained notoriety throughout the early 20th century as the militant arm of Communist political parties across Europe. It is quite ironic that a group which claims to fight against “fascism” and “extremism” uses political violence to silence political views which they do not personally agree with.
Regardless, following the riot (which caused over $100,000 in property damage to the university itself), the administration at UC Berkeley defended its decision to not provide Mr. Yiannopoulos with a safe and secure forum in which he could address the many students who had wanted to hear him speak, and proceeded to silence a number of other conservative commentators in the months that followed, including right-wing author and thinker Ann Coulter, and the right-leaning founder of The Daily Wire, Benjamin Shapiro. Even here at Trent University we saw instances of freedom of speech under attack, when members of the Trent Conservatives were sexually attacked by a local left-wing activist the day after the US Presidential election – an act which received virtual silence from university administration and faculty.
How can a university claim to have a zero-tolerance rule against sexual assault, yet not take definitive action when one is committed against students of conservative political leanings? Do school rules only apply to those who adhere to a certain ideological belief system? Why is it that a number of Trent University professors embarrassed themselves last year when they signed an open-letter to Trent University students which purported to be against “hate” and “discrimination” – in response to a Hate Crime Hoax which required the President of Trent University to debunk in a statement published in all local media outlets – yet they will not speak up against hate and discrimination directed at conservative-leaning students?
As this years President of the Trent Campus Conservatives I am committed to ensuring that our university remains dedicated to academic honesty, integrity, and freedom, and that we all reject ideological-extremism whenever it is found in our classrooms, our hallways, and our meeting places. This is why this year, the Trent Campus Conservatives will inaugurate the Annual Corey R. LeBlanc Award for Courage and Freedom which will be awarded to a Trent University student who expresses exemplary dedication to promoting the values of academic freedom and intellectual honesty at Trent University, and who displays extreme courage in the face of adversity and harassment. The recipient of this award will receive a hard-cover copy of Dr. Peterson’s signature work, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, as well as a dinner to commemorate their contributions to the learning environment at Trent University.
Nominations for this award will open immediately, and run until March of next year, and should be sent to [email protected]. May we all have a great 2017/18 school year!