More evidence that America’s institutions of higher education have given up any pretense of providing a bastion for the free exchange of ideas came this week in the form of a commentary published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The piece, authored by an anonymous college professor, explains the author’s reluctance to write a recommendation for a former student after promising to do so. The student’s sin? She exercises her Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
It’s no secret that the faculty at America’s colleges and universities have an overarching political bent. Newspapers and online resources are replete with accounts of students facing ridicule or worse for sharing conflicting political opinions; and some researchers have done testing and surveying to expose the biases in academia. While sizeable portions of the U.S. population ranging across the political spectrum enjoy firearm ownership and respect our Second Amendment rights, the left-wing orthodoxy prevalent at many schools is decidedly anti-gun. However, even in this hostile environment, the piece in the Chronicle stands out as particularly bigoted.
In a practice that has become cliché, the author starts the piece by explaining that she grew up in a house with firearms; which, of course, grants her the authority to pass judgement on all of America’s 100 million gun owners. The professor then introduces us to her gun-owning student, making sure to politely denigrate her academic prowess, writing, “Her academic abilities were not strong but she had great energy and was a class leader. Definitely a process, and not a content, type of gal.” This is followed by a similarly condescending portrayal of the largely pro-gun community surrounding the school.
The author goes on to explain that at some point in the last year the student asked her for a recommendation for the student’s application to a teacher-credential program. The professor agreed to write the recommendation, but following a high-profile shooting and recalling the student’s gun ownership, she is having second thoughts.
To justify her intolerance of the student’s choice to exercise her rights, the author projects her own father’s struggles with mental illness onto the student. The piece cites no evidence of erratic behavior or a propensity for violence on the part of the student. The professor only learned that the student enjoyed firearms after the student shared and account of a range trip with her class, and when the professor overheard the student telling a classmate about acquiring a Right-to-Carry permit. Despite this, the author writes, “I don’t know if [the student] understands emotions, or what rage feels like. It seems to me no person who has truly experienced the full impact of their own emotions would ever go near a gun.”
Later on, the professor is more frank, finally admitting, “How can I say I don’t want to support students who are gun enthusiasts without getting put on some sort of list?”
This episode comes on the heels of other high-profile instances of anti-gun college faculty revealing the severe extent of their bias. In a 2015 Newsweek piece titled “Will Guns on Campus Lead to Grade Inflation,” Texas Woman’s University Professor of Sociology Jessica Smart Gullion declared her opposition to the Right-to-Carry on campus by posing to readers, “Will we soon see a new sort of grade inflation, with students earning a 4.0 GPA with their firepower rather than brainpower?” More recently, University of North Dakota Professor Heidi Czerwiec penned a letter to the Grand Forks Herald regarding her intention to call 911 every time the ROTC program drills with firearms on campus. Czerwiec contended that the ROTC program’s use of firearms during on campus exercises was “highly inappropriate” and “irresponsible.”
As ridiculous as these instances are, it is safe to say the author of the Chronicle item broke fresh ground in academic intolerance of gun owners and gun rights supporters by openly admitting that she allows her prejudices to govern academic decisions. While this screed will certainly live in infamy, we have no doubt that another narrow-minded professor will eventually come along to set a new low.