- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sen. John N. Kennedy urged a college president to resign Tuesday and said the man “ought to hide his head in a bag” over a hostile atmosphere toward conservative speakers at Williams College.

The Louisiana Republican used a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to blast Adam Falk, the college president, after he revoked an invitation to a conservative commentator to speak at his school, and after one of the school’s student organizations canceled self-proclaimed anti-feminist author Suzanne Vekner’s event.

“He’s not fit to be a college president as far as I’m concerned,” said Mr. Kennedy. “He needs to explain to students and have them understand that they do not have a constitutional right in life not to be offended.”

Republicans convened Tuesday’s hearing to highlight a growing list of college campuses that have faced a backlash over conservative speakers, or imposed restrictions on those allowed to speak.

One student, Isaac Smith, told the senators he had to sue Ohio University after it censored his student organization’s T-shirt slogan.

His group, Students Defending Students, defended fellow classmates who were accused of violating the school’s Student Code of Conduct. After wearing T-shirts that said, “We get you off for free,” they were told never to wear them again by school administration because the shirts “objectified women” and “promoted prostitution.”

At Williams College, Zach Wood, a senior and president of the student group Uncomfortable Learning, said Mr. Falk’s policies have prevented his organization from bringing in speakers with conservative ideas.

He also pointed to Mr. Falk’s decision to disinvite conservative commentator John Derbyshire from speaking about race and national identity. Mr. Wood called that decision “impermissible, undemocratic, and antithetical to the intellectual character of the college.”

Mr. Falk told The Washington Times that he sees Williams College as a champion of campus free speech. He said a new policy governing how student groups can bring guest speakers of their preference on campus is proof.

“The policies also provide greater transparency regarding outside organizations or individuals funding these events,” Mr. Falk said. “I look forward to having our commitment to free speech tested and fulfilled when students return in the fall.”

Mr. Falk disinvited Mr. Derbyshire, who previously wrote for the National Review, because he considered his writing “racist ranting,” according to The Washington Post. The school’s student newspaper, meanwhile, featured an editorial explaining Ms. Vekner was disinvited because “her presence on campus would have hurt students who face sexist and homophobic stereotypes.”

Since attending Williams College, Mr. Wood said there hasn’t been a single conservative speaker brought in by the administration. The student, who identifies as a liberal Democrat, said that creates an “echo chamber” on campus.

Williams College is a private institution, meaning Mr. Falk and the school were within their legal right to ban certain speakers.

“It would be constitutional for them to say we only invite people we think are of educational value,” said Mr. Floyd Abrams, senior counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

But Mr. Abrams said a university “ought to stay out of the business of making quality — or educational quality — decisions” with regards to the viewpoints of guest speakers.

Public universities have also had problems with handling speakers.

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter was unable to speak earlier this year at the University of California, Berkeley, after the school was unable to guarantee the event’s safety.

And a riot broke out after Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to appear at the school in February. The university canceled the event hours before start time.

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