Sunday, May 19

NY Times editorial calls out chaos, failed leadership at colleges: Led to fear, harassment of Jewish students

The New York Times editorial board criticized American university administrators on Saturday, accusing them of letting the anti-Israel protests get so out of hand that both Jewish students, faculty, and the protesters have been “harassed” and “directly endangered.”

The editorial argued that though students have a right to free speech and protest, university leaders should step in when the disruptions get dangerous or threaten the academic freedom of students and faculty, stating that these leaders have failed in doing so. As a result, students have felt threatened, cynical politicians have used the opportunity to attack the universities, and some views have been shouted down.

“During the current demonstrations, a lack of accountability has helped produce a crisis,” the board declared in its editorial, titled “A Failure of Leadership at American Universities.”


The editorial argued that university administrators have failed to enforce “student codes of conduct and other guidelines,” which it said are “meant to relieve some of the tension between free speech and academic freedom” as well as make sure that schools follow the law.

“But rules matter only when guardrails are consistently upheld. It’s in that enforcement that the leadership of too many universities has fallen short,” the board stated, explaining that campus authorities have not demanded better student conduct amid the current rash of anti-Israel demonstrations.

As a result, the protests have left “some Jewish students feeling systematically harassed” and the “protesters themselves have been directly endangered — the disarray and violence of the past weeks has been escalated by the continued involvement of both the police and external agitators,” The Times wrote.


It noted that universities have been rightly chided for attempts to regulate speech in the past, but argued that on the other hand, “it should be easy to agree that no student, faculty member, administrator or university staff member on a campus should be threatened or intimidated. School policies should reflect that, and they should be enforced when necessary.”


The board continued, stating how this lack of reining in student expression has even led to cynical politicians finding “opportunities to crusade against academic freedom.”

Speaker Mike Johnson of the House of Representatives used this moment of chaos as cover to begin a legislative effort to crack down on elite universities, and lawmakers in the House recently passed a proposal that would impose egregious government restrictions on free speech,” the board wrote.

At the same time, the editorial board argued that lack of leadership has led to certain views, even conservative ones, being silenced on campus by other faculty and students. 

“Some scholars report that this has had a chilling effect on their work, making them less willing to participate in the academy or in the wider world of public discourse,” the editorial stated, adding, “The price of pushing boundaries, particularly with more conservative ideas, has become higher and higher.”

The editorial board concluded that free speech must be protected on American campuses while at the same time, administrators should enforce “clear guardrails on conduct” that would “restore order” at the universities.”

Earlier this week, New York Times executive editor Joe Kahn said in a new interview that he won’t allow his paper to become an “instrument of the Biden campaign” simply because his agenda aligns with traditional establishment parties. 

Kahn told Semafor’s Ben Smith the Times’ job is to “cover the full range of issues” that Americans have, not serve one side.

“At the moment, democracy is [a top issue]. But it’s not the top one — immigration happens to be the top [of polls], and the economy and inflation is the second. Should we stop covering those things because they’re favorable to Trump and minimize them? I don’t even know how it’s supposed to work in the view of Dan Pfeiffer or the White House,” he said. 

“We become an instrument of the Biden campaign? We turn ourselves into Xinhua News Agency or Pravda and put out a stream of stuff that’s very, very favorable to them and only write negative stories about the other side? And that would accomplish — what?”

Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *