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Student Barred From Class for Free Speech

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Published on: March 21, 2015

Yet again, the citizens of the United States are witness to the “tolerance” of the liberal left. This time, it is Reed College and the treatment of Jeremiah True, aged 19, at the hands of his Humanities 110 class professor. True received an email from his professor, Pancho Savery, on March 14th, which banned True from participation in the “conference” section of the class because True denied the existence of rape culture in the US by arguing that the “one in five women are raped at college” statistic is bogus.

According to the Daily Caller:

True says he sparred with his classmates on a variety of issues, but says it was his criticism of the 1-in-5 rape statistic that ended up being the tipping point.

“There are several survivors of sexual assault in our conference, and you have made them extremely uncomfortable with what they see as not only your undermining incidents of rape, but of also placing too much emphasis on men being unfairly charged with rape,” said Savery in an email True posted online. “[Other students] have said that things that you have said in our conference have made them so upset that they have difficulty concentrating in other classes. I, as conference leader, have to do what is best for the well-being of the entire class, and I am therefore banning you from conference for the remainder of the semester.”

Before going any further, rape is a violent crime… period, and should be dealt with according to the law. However, the statistic cited that one in five women are raped at college is in direct conflict with other data related to violent crime, “including the gold standard US Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey, and has been debunked by criminologists.” In fact, it was discovered these numbers came from a “skewed” CDC survey.

The statistic was contained in a report authored by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault where the recommendations for universities and college campus administrators were to remove tenets of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Bill of Rights contained in the US Constitution for males accused of the crime of rape on campus. In May of 2014, a University of Michigan male student was accused, charged and found guilty of rape without being afforded due process; the male student was not even informed of the charges against him. The university expelled this student. No report by the university to law enforcement or the criminal justice system was made and this student’s life has forever been changed.

And, unfortunately, there are women who make false claims of rape making it more difficult for survivors of this violent crime. While acknowledging this may not be comfortable for some, it is fact.

A few of True’s classmates weighed in on the professor’s decision.

Student Rosey Dempsey, a senior at Reed, said, “This is an example of a professor taking an initiative to take care of his students. Of course, we are an institution that encourages dissent and active discussion, but there is a difference between stimulating discussion through opposition and making other students feel unsafe.”

An unnamed student suggested that True’s banishment from the class was necessary since he “triggered” other students – a reference possibly to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Junior Kate Hilts remarked, “Rape culture is undisputable and [True’s] words and actions are deeply upsetting. They’ve retraumatized and triggered survivors, and that seems antithetical to Reed culture.”

Last year, it was reported by Jennifer Medina in the New York Times that college students across the nation were requesting that “trigger” warnings be attached to classroom materials, including books, to alert students that the contents “might upset them.” Would it be safe to say that those who hold “upsetting” words are now to wear shirts alerting others about their opinion – Warning! Beware! My right to freedom of speech may cause PTSD triggering?” How could sharing “facts” that disputed the bogus statistic used to eradicate due process rights be considered “upsetting” or traumatize and trigger survivors? Rape victims and other victims of violent crimes should be outraged if statistics are skewed, flawed or misrepresented in any way – that is the true traumatization of survivors and what should be upsetting. And, it is something that should be discussed openly, rationally, and factually.

What does Reed College actually establish in its mission and operating principles?

According to Reed College’s “About” page, “The goal of the Reed education is that students learn and demonstrate rigor and independence in their habits of thought, inquiry, and expression.” The Reed Education section, number two (2), states, “Small conference and laboratory classes are the norm, providing students the opportunity to demonstrate intellectual initiative and creative engagement.”

So far, the college’s own statements support True in his independence of thought, inquiry and expression along with his intellectual initiative in offering “facts” to correct false information and creatively engage others to examine the entire issue.

As far as the professor going so far as to remove True from class, Reed’s operating principles state, “The educational mission of the college requires the freest exchange and most open discussion of ideas. The use of censorship or intimidation is intolerable in such a community.”

Maybe Professor Savery missed that portion of the college operating principle memo.

True has stated that he has “sparred” with classmates on a variety of issued but it is the dispute over the 1-in-5 rape statistic that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, True said, “I know many people aren’t comfortable with taking the stances I do, but I’m not a sheep.”

True has launched an online petition to demand he be allowed back into his Humanities 110 class.

Isn’t this what America needs – more young people who do not subscribe to the sheep mentality? Individuals who are willing to think for themselves, research issues and formulate opinions, and expand their horizons beyond what the indoctrination centers put before them should be encouraged; however, universities and professors prefer censorship since dissenting opinions based on facts interfere with indoctrination. The inherent God-given right to free speech (excluding libel and slander), freedom of thought and formulation of opinions or due process do not end at the boundaries of the college campus.

As the Daily Caller has pointed out, the study citing the 1-in-5 rape statistic (roughly 20% of females) on college campus had “numerous shortcomings: it only surveyed students at two (unnamed) universities, it relied on Internet surveys with a low response rate and it used questions worded in such a way that ordinary drunken sexual encounters could be classified as rape.” The use of this unreliable statistic would mean college campuses are more dangerous than high crime-ridden areas of some major cities.

As stated earlier, rape is a violent crime that should be dealt with according to the law. Our law protects the inherent right to due process under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments of the US Constitution for all individuals; and, the tenet is or should be “innocent until proven guilty.” It appears the White House and some college campuses are more than willing to dispense with these provisions involving college attending individuals.

Now, disagreeing with less than factual information from the White House regarding “rape culture” or opening it up for discussion, is now reason to exclude an individual from a portion of his studies. Not only has due process been eradicated on some college campuses, free expression in the classroom is now under attack? What is next?

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