Education is not about you

Published June 20, 2024

WORLD Opinions

It is not only in America that American colleges and universities have been roiled with pro-Palestinian campus protests. A recent news report indicates that there is trouble for overseas campuses as well, including New York University’s base in Abu Dhabi. Apparently there has been quite a crackdown on pro-Palestinian activity, culminating in a controversial ban on students decorating their graduation robes and caps with political symbols and slogans.

It is fascinating that some have claimed that this ceremonial restriction is a serious infringement of freedom of speech. Such a conclusion requires certain cultural assumptions. Holding and expressing pro-Palestinian sympathies are, of course, perfectly legitimate in a free, academic environment. But for this specific limitation on graduation attire and behavior to be interpreted as an egregious attack on freedom of speech rests upon a deeper understanding of what universities are. And that in turn depends upon a broader notion of how individuals relate to institutions.

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Carl R. Trueman is a fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping civic leaders and policy makers better understand the deep roots of our current cultural malaise. In addition to his scholarship on the intellectual foundations of expressive individualism and the sexual revolution, Trueman is also interested in the origins, rise, and current use of critical theory by progressives. He serves as a professor at Grove City College.

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