Professors at publicly funded Utah Valley University (UVU) were given a letter instructing them to report anyone who says or does anything to make the campus “less inclusive” to the “Behavior Assessment Team” for monitoring and reconditioning.
In yet another blow to free speech on college campuses, UVU teachers and administrators have just been granted nearly unlimited powers to chill any ideas that run contrary to their personal beliefs, with an incredible range of latitude available to discipline students for voicing unpopular opinions. The guidance letter put out by the dean’s office tells teachers to report any students who are argumentative, speak loudly or use “inappropriate” language.
Titled “Recognizing and Responding to Students of Concern,” the letter outraged one professor enough to send a copy to the media. Listed behavior includes some that do merit concern such as stalking, bullying, and angry outbursts but other not so harmless entries are mixed in between. Such vague offenses as “Making numerous complaints,” “unreasonable demands,” and “behavior that challenges University expectations” are things that could result in further action.
The professor who blew the whistle also pointed out that the day before the letter was circulated, there was a meeting to kick off the new year that featured a topic of discussion centered around making students feel “safe.” The faculty was told that anyone making a statement deemed to be in any way “less inclusive” should be reported to Behavior Assessment for “monitoring” to ensure “positive behavior change.” Other offenses that can earn behavior assessment are “concerning communication” or “vulgar language.”
“I’m afraid that this Behavior Assessment Team is a bias response team in disguise,” the anonymous professor emphasized. “Yes, even in a deep-red state at a university in one of the most conservative counties in America, faculty are afraid to speak their minds publicly if their opinions aren’t 100 percent politically correct,” he continued. He also called the Behavior Team “a tool of intimidation instead of a tool to foster inclusion.”
It wasn’t always like that here, the teacher insisted. “In the past, we have always been told that the Behavioral Assessment Team was for students who were a threat to physical safety…or for students who are disrupting the learning process. This year is the first time when we have been encouraged to report students for their words that may go against the inclusivity initiative or that may subjectively make someone ‘feel unsafe.’”
The faculty member also pointed out that a Pro-Trump flyer was discovered on the campus soon after the election which caused a lot of commotion. It may not have been very tastefully written but one student was trying to make a point. “Donald Trump Won! Now All You Liberal ——– Better Shut The —- Up With Your Muslim Rights, Gay Rights, Illegal Immigrant Rights & ALL That Other Bull —-! America’s Economy Will Now Finally Be Booming Again And The World Will Tremble At The Thought Of Facing America’s Military! If You Liberal ——– Don’t Like It, Do America A Huge Favor And Get The —- Out And Go Join Some Socialist Paradise That You ——– Idolize So — —- Much!”
Three copies were pasted on various walls across the campus. To Chris Taylor, UVU Associate VP of Communications, “that’s three too many.” He continues, “We’re disappointed as a university. We pride ourselves as a university as being inclusive and hospitable to everybody. This certainly isn’t reflective of who we are or what we stand for.” I guess “everybody” does not include whoever wrote the flyer.
Adjunct Professor Maddie Scott believes in free speech but only when she agrees with it. Maddie teaches “English as a Second Language” to many foreign students. “I think that there’s a point where nastiness and just intolerance and hate have to be controlled and curtailed in some way just so that people feel safe,” Scott said. Students echoed her concerns, calling the piece of paper “cruel” and “appalling.” The university held a post-election “Emotional Debriefing” for students to “talk about their feelings with a Student Health Services crisis counselor present.”
It is amazing how college campuses have done a complete swing of the pendulum from one extreme to the other. Take Berkeley for example. Between 1964 and 1974, University of California’s Berkeley campus was the home of the “Free Speech Movement.” In 1964, Campus President Clark Kerr Long “insisted that the University wouldn’t interfere with student’s lives off campus, but, by the same token, that students must keep their political activities off campus.” Non-student Jack Weinberg was arrested for passing out political flyers. Mario Savio earned a place in history by jumping on top of the police car with 10,000 students surrounding it and preventing it from leaving.
Flash forward to today and Ben Shapiro is scheduled to give a talk at the same school later this month. The fact that he is a conservative speaker has students so freaked out that they may hear a contrary idea, the university administration is spreading the word they will be offering counseling services to anyone “triggered” by the lecture. “We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, [support services] are being offered and encouraged,” wrote Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos.