Higher Education

Speakers question bias reporting system, lack of intellectual diversity at OU

March 16, 2017

Jay Chilton

David French talks with students and guests at the University of Oklahoma's Meacham Auditorium, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Jay Chilton / CIJ)

[Part one in a series]

March 16, 2017
By Jay Chilton, CIJ

Policies and official actions by leadership at the University of Oklahoma claiming to enforce “diversity and inclusion” actually deny First Amendment rights for students and promote a particular point of view at the state’s flagship university, according to two recent speakers.

David French, a journalist at National Review, spoke at OU’s Meacham Auditorium on March 1 about the need for free speech rights in America’s universities. French, a past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), also served as a lawyer with the American Center for Law and Justice and Alliance Defending Freedom.

In his lecture, “Conservatives Need Not Apply,” French described how many universities in America and the Western world institutionally discourage and punish conservative thought by establishing “bias reporting” infrastructures. These systems are intended to provide members of the university community the ability to report—anonymously—incidents of bias, racial discrimination, physical or mental harassment, or misconduct. French argued that these practices are not only damaging to conservatives, but to liberals as well.

He said that confidential hotlines at universities, which prompt investigations by campus police and university administrations whenever reports are made, serve to place a chilling effect on free speech by university members who do not wish to be embroiled in a conflict.

“What a bias response team does is respond to a report of bias with an investigation,” he said.

“Any speech that is deemed sufficiently offensive, on the basis of numerous categories, is either punishable under the speech code policies, or subject to university sanction under unwritten policies,” he said. “So if you engage in speech that is subjectively offensive on the basis of, for example, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, ethnicity, etc., etc., then speech is automatically suspect.

“What you end up doing is you create a situation in which speech is always questioned and offense is not.

“Speech cannot thrive in that environment. Ideas cannot thrive in that environment.”

Prof. David Deming of the University of Oklahoma speaks to members of the High Noon Club in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 10, 2017. (Jay Chilton / CIJ)

Dr. David Deming, a professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma, is a regular critic of what he sees as rampant promotion of radical left-wing ideology and suppression of conservative thought by the university.

Deming spoke before the High Noon Club at H&H Shooting Sports in Oklahoma City on March 10.

“I am against political indoctrination,” he said. “And the first thing you have to do, to fix something, is recognize that it exists.”

Deming then narrated a slideshow exposing an extensive list of official actions by OU to advocate a radical leftist viewpoint. He started with the invitation of Harry Belafonte to speak at the university.

“Belafonte is a well-known singer,” he said, “but that is not why he was invited. He was invited because he is a radical left-wing revolutionary … he was here for several days and honored with a presidential dinner.”

He talked about Belafonte’s labeling of the Trump administration as the “Fourth Reich,” and his praise of communist dictators Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Joseph Stalin. He further pointed out that Belafonte has referred to the United States as terrorist and villainous in its actions.

Deming then showed a list of recent changes at OU typifying its liberal politicization. Freshmen are required to attend “diversity training,” the university houses a new “Center for Social Justice,” and OU has implemented extensive identity-degree programs dedicated exclusively to the study of women, African-Americans, or Native-Americans. Further, he said that new facilities have been provided at taxpayer expense, including a “Gender and Equality Center,” a gay lounge, and an Islamic prayer room.

As a final example of OU’s tendency toward left-wing indoctrination, he said that the History of Science Department actively teaches racial hatred. Deming said that students in the department are taught that every white person is a racist by birth and will always be racist because of their “white privilege.” He said that the students are taught that every woman, homosexual, poor person, and person of color is oppressed and disenfranchised and the students should “work in solidarity with oppressed groups” and “join feminist and activist communities” to combat the unavoidable disenfranchisement.

Lastly, he said that students are taught that to suggest the idea of hard work and personal industriousness as a pathway to success is a racist microaggression and should be dealt with as hate speech.