Students for Change: Rebuttal

By Daniel Milyavsky

My apologies for that very lame headline, but it happens. As most of you know, I wrote an op-ed for Pipe Dream against SfC and all the awful, stifling, and illiberal things they stand for. Despite not being published either in the print edition or on the home page, the article got a ton of attention and I was complimented on it by students of all political ideologies. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that Students for Change is batshit crazy and cannot be allowed to succeed. This was affirmed by the fact that Epiphany Munoz lost the VPMA election due to her SfC affiliation, despite being the ONLY candidate on the ballot.

Everyone, except Pipe Dream opinion columnists and editorial authors–which are way out of step with how the average Binghamton student feels about SfC–is tired of their antics. Actually, I think Stenger was being way too soft and should man up to defend free speech and the status of Binghamton University, but I digress.

Anyway, I’m going to respond to this article by Madison Ball that was written in response to my original column.

“One of the demands that seems to be causing concern among students on campus is the call for severe sanctioning for those caught using “offensive or subjective language” toward individuals or groups based on but not limited to race, sexual orientation, gender and political affiliation.

“Milyavsky declares this a violation of the First Amendment, comparing it to a situation in which criticizing socialism in an intellectual manner would result in school sanctions. This is absurd and misleading. Of course students will not be hauled off to the courts for having such a discussion.

Okay, what if I don’t criticize socialism in an intellectual manner? What if I just call someone a “fucking socialist?” That counts as “offensive and subjective” language towards an individual based on his political affiliation, right? Should this be an offense worthy of prosecution? Actually, that’s a rhetorical question. The First Amendment has an answer. It says that there shall be no law which “abridging the freedom of speech.” Boom! Debate over! I get to say whatever I want, and you don’t get to arrest or expel me for it (since we attend a public university).

“Certain types of speech are not protected by the Constitution, such as the use of obscenity, hate speech and incitement of violence, and therefore have no overriding reason to be protected by the school.”

WRONG. Here’s a quote from the ACLU: “The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.” In fact, even violent speech is permitted, with only very rare exceptions. Here is a quote from the Supreme Court, in Brandenburg v. Ohio (I know it’s absurd for me to expect a Pipe Dream opinion columnist to conduct even a cursory level of research before writing an article, but oh well): “The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force, or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” You get that? In order to be banned, imminent lawless action must be incited. Pretty tough standard. Welcome to living in a free country. If you don’t like it, you can go to basically any other one, since the United States is the only one that protects free speech to such a laudable extent.

“Milyavsky was also highly critical of the group’s demand to diversify faculty as well as the student body, expressing concerns that Affirmative Action hiring policies would lower the competency of professors as well as stating that students of color can simply apply to schools other than Binghamton. This demonstrates a real lack of understanding of Affirmative Action. I’ve heard the argument before that people should be hired without account for their race, and that doing anything otherwise would violate our notions of “equality” and “fairness.” But Affirmative Action policies are not taking away from either of these things in our society; rather, it’s an attempt to make up for the lack of equality and fairness.

That’s completely beside the point. Students for Change advocates a mandatory quota for 50 percent of students and faculty to be rainbow colored and have three different types of genitalia, or whatever. Sticking to these rigid quotas would necessarily force the University to hire inferior faculty in an attempt to meet these absurd demographic requirements. And actually, these types of quotas are illegal for public universities to have. See Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

“And what could possibly be the harm of introducing cultural competency courses? I’ve had to sit through a number of GenEds that not only did not pertain to my major, but didn’t even really pertain to anything in my life (the weather course/lab I took my freshman year is coming to mind), so why is it preposterous to think that we should take a course that trains us to appropriately respond to certain racial and cultural issues?”

So because you had to sit through a useless course, every student should be forced to sit through even more useless courses? If anything, this suggests that Pipe Dream columnists should first be required to take a Basic Logic gen-ed.

“As they are, the demands of Students for Change are not unreasonable and certainly are falsely represented by the overgeneralized and hysterical rhetoric present in Milyavsky’s article.”

Meh, you call it hysterical rhetoric, I call it quality writing and a staunch defense of student liberty. But hey, at least I bothered to do the basic research required to know what I’m talking about!

P.S. In the original version of the article, Ball wrote that although she hopes that our admissions process isn’t racist, but “there is no proof that racism was not present in the application process of past generations.” Well, there is no proof that racism WAS present! And, not for nothing, but our undergraduate admissions director, Randall Edouard, is black. So there is that.

Also, the edited version doesn’t even link to my original article. What the hell is up with that? Are you guys jealous that an article written by a guest author got more hits and Facebook recommendations than any articles written by your regular columnists?

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