Last week, the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT refused to condemn calls for Jewish genocide as bullying or harassment. While horrible antisemitic speech and behavior have long been defended on their campuses, this debacle occurred before the United States Congress. The presidents attempted to appeal to free speech rights, differentiating between speech and conduct via statements obviously crafted by lawyers. Their comments shocked and outraged many. Penn’s president resigned after initially attempting to walk back her comments. Harvard’s president quickly apologized, while the MIT board of directors issued a statement in support of their president. 

Recently, the pseudonymous Tyler Durden documented the scope of the left’s stranglehold on academia on the ZeroHedge website. A new survey by The Harvard Crimson found that more than three-quarters of surveyed Harvard faculty identified as “liberal” or “very liberal,” while just 2.9% identified as “conservative” or “very conservative.” Another study by Kevin Tobia at Georgetown University and Eric Martínez of MIT found that just 9% of law school professors at the nation’s top 50 law schools identify as conservative. A survey conducted last year by The College Fix found that 33 out of 65 academic departments across the nation lacked a single Republican professor.  

Given this virtual monopoly, progressive academics should be confident enough to allow dissenting voices on campus every now and then. However, after years of conservative speakers being canceled and shouted down, it is clear that many progressives only wish to hear their own voices. Some professors have even resorted to denouncing free speech as a threat to their campus dominance. 

Recently, a pair of faculty members from Arizona State University wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled (I am not making this up) “Dear Administrators: Enough with the Free-Speech Rhetoric! It concedes too much to right-wing agendas.” In the piece, Richard Amesbury and Catherine O’Donnell argue that “calls for greater freedom of speech on campuses, however well-intentioned, risk undermining colleges’ central purpose,” which, according to them, is “the production of expert knowledge and understanding.” Not all opinions ought to be heard, they argue, even opinions from dissenting experts, because “not all opinions are equally valid.” 

The timing of their piece, just prior to the testimonies of the three Ivy League presidents, must be divinely determined.  

According to these professors, opinions that are valid are “the product of rigorous and reliable disciplines” like the humanities, which include and often prioritize “the study of race and gender.” These departments, insist Amesbury and O’Donnell, are not part of the “public sphere,” a “speaker’s corner,” or even a “marketplace of ideas.” Instead, these departments and their campuses are sites of production for “expert knowledge and understanding” and should, therefore, be exempt from free speech, democracy, and public debate. We should no more expect humanities departments to hire dissenting voices, they argue, than “a biology department to hire a creationist or a geography department to host a flat-earther.” 

In other words, woke ideologies are above questioning, according to these professors. In the article, they express outrage that the “knowledge” produced in these fields is not “publicly perceived as authoritative.” That loss of credibility, they claim, is not because their ideas are absurd but because of the “political efforts to delegitimize certain disciplines.”  

As Durden wrote in his ZeroHedge piece, “many… academics would be outraged if conservatives were to take hold of faculties and start to exclude their views as ‘unworthy.’” Yet progressive faculties and administrators aggressively redefine “expert opinion” as those who agree with them, silencing those who disagree on the grounds that they’re not experts.  

The result is an echo chamber, not an education. Last week, the three Ivy League presidents discovered just how disconnected their echo chambers are from the rest of the world. Well, two of them did, anyway. 

 Polling confirms that institutions of higher learning suffer from a public credibility crisis. According to a recent Gallup poll, just 36% of Americans hold confidence in higher education, down 21 points since 2015. It’s impossible to look at what has happened on campuses in the last decade or before Congress last week and not conclude that this has more than a little to do with the “products” of left-wing “experts.”  

Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. Few institutions have propagated as many bad ideas and spat them into society as our universities. Among the needs of the hour is the proliferation of Christian scholarship and Christian colleges and universities. I’m hopeful that last week’s debacle before Congress is for Christian higher education what the 2020 school board videos and COVID online classrooms were for Christian K-12 schools. However, it’s only a win if the Christian colleges are truly Christian, truly colleges, and truly Christian colleges. Unfortunately, that seems to be a shrinking group of institutions. May God continue to raise up men and women willing to seek and speak the truth, no matter how many so-called experts tell them to shut up.  

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Shane Morris. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Image/tzahiV via Canva Pro

Publish Date: December 13, 2023

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.