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Private college allows its students to blacklist refugee from Communist China

Whitworth University, where teaching close-mindedness is our goal!
Whitworth University, where teaching close-mindedness
is our number one goal!

They’re coming for you next: When the conservative Turning Point USA chapter at the private Christian Whitworth University in Washington state arranged a lecture from Xi Van Fleet — a refugee from communist China — it discovered it could not do so because it needed the approval of the college’s student organization, and the leaders of that organization voted 9-4 to blacklist that speaker.

On April 12, Whitworth’s student government voted 9-4 to deny a conservative group’s request to invite Chinese dissident Xi Van Fleet to speak at the university in Spokane, Washington. Van Fleet, now a Virginia resident, escaped Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and frequently criticizes ideas such as critical race theory and hecklers’ vetoes that, in her view, mirror it.

The minutes of this student government meeting are available online [pdf]. If you read them, you find that it is very clear these students do not believe in freedom of speech and instead think the most important thing a college can do is to protect them from hearing ideas they don’t like. These university-level government activists also exhibited an incredible level of general ignorance. Consider this comment from Niraj Pandey, listed as an International Student Senator:

Given the international constituency, we are open to dissenting views obviously, however, to platform someone who would equivocate programs or ideals that has welcomed us into the United States and celebrates our diversity, to communism and in some thinking, fascism, I think that would be very concerning.

First, for a college student Pandey seems to have great deal of difficult expressing himself coherently. Second, it appears that he either thinks Van Fleet will be there to advocate communism, having come from that country, or is horrified with the possibility that Van Fleet might say something against communism. I’m not sure which, but either way Pandey’s ignorance of history and the differences between freedom and dictatorship is appalling. He also clearly thinks it right and proper to censor anyone who might say something that is “concerning.”

The worst part of this story is that the university allows its students this veto power. In a college, the last people who should be given such power should be the students, since the whole point of going to college is to learn the ability to think critically, and you can’t do that if you refuse to hear opposing points of views. It is the job of the professors and administrators of a college to force this upon students, in order to make them better and smarter.

Whitworth apparently does not believe in this kind of education. Instead, it believes that censorship and blacklisting and racial politics should rule all. Or as Jamie Gassman, Club Coordinator, noted,

Our goal here is to not bring someone that is harmful and make sure students feel safe.

In other words, the goal at Whitworth is to create closed-minded adults who can’t tolerate debate or disagreement.

If any of my kids were attending this college I would get them out now, without hesitation.

Meanwhile, the Turning Point chapter made other arrangements, and Van Fleet gave her lecture off-campus, to what looked like a full room. Too bad that room was almost certainly filled only with supporters. The students at Whitworth who might have actually benefited from hearing Van Fleet’s perspective, such as Niraj Pandey and Jamie Gassman, were instead safely protected from such ideas, living in the protective bubble provided by the university, with their heads in the sand.

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  • Milt

    Methinks that Mr. Pandey is confusing “equivocate” with equates, but this is just a guess. In this case, the gist of what he is saying would seem to be that anyone who dares to suggest that there might be some equivalency between the woke programs or ideals that he and his fellow students embrace and the tenets of communism / fascism is “threatening” to them and ought not to be tolerated. God, no.

    Unhappily, pointing out the similarities between life under the Communist Party in China and life in woke America is *exactly* what Ms. Fleet is attempting to do, as can be gleaned from her book, Mao’s America: A Survivor’s Warning.

    As Robert observes, the students at Whitworth University seem to “think the most important thing a college can do is to protect them from hearing ideas they don’t like,” and the school’s primary mission becomes protecting them from heresy. And, as he concludes, “the goal at Whitworth is to create closed-minded adults who can’t tolerate debate or disagreement.”

  • James Street

    The godless Chicom commies have infiltrated all of America but especially college campuses for, among many things, intellectual property theft and brain washing America’s youth. Some of those “handful of my constituents” leading the charge against having Xi Van Fleet speak were probably on the payroll of the CCP.

  • Jason Lewis

    If a student did not want to hear what the speaker MIGHT say, the student could just …. not attend the talk. How hard would that be? That’s apparently not good enough. They feel they must prevent others from hearing what the speaker has to say as well. This is SO different from when I attended college where “Free Speech Alley” was revered.

  • Jeff Wright

    All SGAs need be abolished

  • Larry Folds


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