Education

Liberal Pundits Lose It Over College Student’s NYT Op-Ed Criticizing Campus ‘Self-Censorship’

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Kendall Tietz Education Reporter
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  • Emma Camp, a senior at the University of Virginia, aired her grievances over free speech in an op-ed titled “I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead.” The piece was met with intense criticism from commentators on the political left.
  • “I went to college to learn from my professors and peers,” Camp wrote. “I welcomed an environment that champions intellectual diversity and rigorous disagreement. Instead, my college experience has been defined by strict ideological conformity.”
  • “[M]e enjoying my day, not reading the bad NYT op-ed,” former Vox editor and independent journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted.
  • “Is there any other way for a college student to break into the NYT op-ed pages than to write woke-panic claptrap like this? Complete with citation to bogus far-right-funded poll,” Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, tweeted. “And hello, this is UVA we’re talking about, I call bs.”

A college student sparked backlash from journalists and liberal political pundits Monday after she wrote an op-ed in The New York Times criticizing the alleged environment of “self-censorship” she encountered on campus.

Emma Camp, a senior at the University of Virginia, voiced her concerns over threats to free speech in an op-ed titled “I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead.” The piece was met with intense criticism from commentators on the political left.

“I went to college to learn from my professors and peers,” Camp wrote. “I welcomed an environment that champions intellectual diversity and rigorous disagreement. Instead, my college experience has been defined by strict ideological conformity.”

Camp, who describes herself as a liberal, has written about free speech on the University of Virginia (UVA) campus for the student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, and interned for free speech advocacy group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), according to the NYT.

“Students of all political persuasions hold back — in class discussions, in friendly conversations, on social media — from saying what we really think,” Camp wrote. “Even as a liberal who has attended abortion rights protests and written about standing up to racism, I sometimes feel afraid to fully speak my mind.”

Camp continued by alleging that backlash for “unpopular opinions” is so common that students no longer share their opinions for fear it will affect their grades “if they don’t censor themselves.”

“We cannot experience the full benefits of a university education without having our ideas challenged, yet challenged in ways that allow us to grow,” Camp wrote, characterizing campus discussions as “monotonous echo chambers.”

Her call for more viewpoint diversity and tolerance toward those with different views prompted backlash from liberal media pundits and journalists across social media. (RELATED: Texas School District’s ‘Racial Equity Committee’ Blocks Parents From Attending Its Meetings Amid Public Backlash)

“[M]e enjoying my day, not reading the bad NYT op-ed,” former Vox editor and independent journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted.

“There’s a lot to say about the NYT op-ed du jour, but I feel that if you are never uncomfortable with/made to question your priors in my classroom in a way that causes you to reflect more than speak—whether you’re a liberal, conservative, or a libertarian— I haven’t done my job,” Georgia State University law professor and political scientist Anthony Michael Kreis tweeted.

“[I] am self-censoring myself by not reading the nyt op-ed that everyone is yelling about,” Hayes Brown, writer and editor for MSNBC Daily, tweeted Monday.

“Is there any other way for a college student to break into the NYT op-ed pages than to write woke-panic claptrap like this? Complete with citation to bogus far-right-funded poll,” Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, tweeted. “And hello, this is UVA we’re talking about, I call bs.”

Other commentators criticized The New York Times and its leadership for publishing the op-ed.

“I don’t want to pile on the young woman in today’s NYT op-ed, for her folk would use that as self-justification of their alleged victimhood,” City University of New York professor Jeff Jarvis tweeted. “I do want to criticize the editor who exploited her youthful naïveté for the sake of contrarian clicks.”

“Anyway, who’s really at fault here? The paper,” NBC News reporter Ben Collins tweeted. “Nobody should expect their popularity at college to be acceptable grist for the op-ed mill. Everyone says and does stupid things in college. It’s the place to do that! You grow there. The paper should not be capitalizing on that.”

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