Author: J. Oliver Conroy

Get On the Bus or Get Under It: Shouting Down Free Speech at Rutgers

The quiet suburb of New Brunswick, New Jersey, felt more like East Berlin, or Belfast, when I visited on the evening of October 2nd. The student center of Rutgers University had been transformed into a loose approximation of Checkpoint Charlie. After passing through the obligatory picket line (“Are you one of the speakers?” a student protester asked me suspiciously), visitors were screened by a gauntlet of police officers and security guards, who inspected our bags for weapons before allowing us into the building’s auditorium. The occasion for this atmosphere of impending confrontation was a panel discussion – “Identity Politics: The New Racialism on Campus?” – sponsored by the left-libertarian British political website Spiked. As part of its “Unsafe Spaces” American tour, Spiked has convened a series of panels at American colleges this fall to discuss questions of identity politics, free speech, and viewpoint diversity on campus. If panels of writers and tweedy intellectuals don’t strike terror into your heart, then you aren’t an administrator at American University, the Washington, D.C. college scheduled to host the first …