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Concordia is not an intellectual “free market”

by Katerina Gang October 11, 2016 1 comment
Concordia is not an intellectual “free market”

Why liberal bias on campus hurts freedom of speech

Free speech has recently become a contentious topic at The Concordian. Last week, the newspaper published an article titled “Safe spaces: Both useful and necessary,” refuting my previous objections to safe spaces.

One of the article’s main arguments, stated that “the increase in safe spaces across university campuses is a sign that the concept of a safe space is succeeding in this ‘free market.’” But claiming that all universities, and Concordia specifically, represent a free market is not just intellectually dishonest—it’s laughable.

Liberal bias is institutionally entrenched by students and universities. Dissenters can do little to be heard when universities, university groups and students stifle opinions.

The Toronto Sun reported that Generation Screwed, a group opposing expanding entitlements and government control, was kicked off a parking space at Laval University last month for “unsanctioned activism.” The university demanded the group get a permit to protest, which the school refused to give, without stating a reason.

“The very concept of having to get a permit to express yourself we think is just absolutely ridiculous,” said Aaron Gunn, executive director of Generation Screwed, according to the same article in the Toronto Sun. Protesting is a right—one university’s should not institutionally control.

Even when universities do the right thing, many students help perpetrate this authoritarian control of the narrative. According to CBC News, a student from Mount Royal University in Calgary was recently threatened and robbed of his “Make America Great Again” hat by students who called it “hate language.”

I like to wear my “Make America Great Again” hat too. The pro safe spaces article in The Concordian indicated speech limitations in safe spaces are no more extreme than Canada’s Charter. But when political disagreement is deemed hateful, like the incident in Alberta and through my own experiences as a conservative have shown me it is, we’re left with no choice but to succumb to Big Brother or be shunned.

Narrative-control happens at Concordia too, albeit more insidiously. Recently, Reggies hosted a Rap Battle for Climate Justice, organized by the CSU and student groups, to discuss the topic of pipelines, fossil fuels, and tar sands through a rap battle. Despite featuring arguments and counterarguments for environmental justice, the event was anything but a real battle.

The pro-economy performers were caricatures “dressed in suits, walking around throwing fake $100 bills in every direction,” it was written in The Concordian article covering the event. Participant Mutatayi Fuamba even admitted that everyone present shared the same opinions. “We are all against fossil fuels—we are all for social justice and climate justice,” he said.

Climate justice is complex. Yes, protecting the environment and communities is important—but so are the millions of jobs and dollars tied up in Alberta’s oil industry.

I’m tired of our campus pretending it wants to tackle big issues, then asserting its bias as inherently correct through careful manipulation of speakers. We’re not having discussions so much as lectures in echo chambers.

The opinions of marginalized students should be heardbut dissenters shouldn’t automatically be labeled hateful, racist, sexist or anything else.

I don’t want liberal or marginalized speakers silenced—I want a variety of speakers. I want to be persuaded with well-formulated arguments from both sides. I want to be encouraged to share my opinions and political affiliations without fear of attack, theft or character assassination.

When Concordia organizes events with speakers from the same side of the argument under the guise of discussion, not all sides are being truly addressed. Those who haven’t done a lot of research on some of these complex issues might assume all sides are being represented, and that liberal ideas are winning. But they’re not—they’re just not competing.

Graphic by Florence Yee

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