By Nick Gallo
An online petition signed by 659 students demanded that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) be removed as participants from the UC Irvine Career Fair last week. The petition, which was launched after a failed attempt by undocumented students to get the Career Center to formally withdraw its invitation to CBP, derided CBP as an immoral organization committed to “enacting violence,” “racially profiling” and conducting “unjust killings” at the oppressive and “arbitrary boundary line” that is the US-Mexico border.
CBP’s presence on campus, they alleged, would pose a threat to the “physical, emotional, and mental well-being of [undocumented] students on campus.” Even inviting CBP, they claim, is “an act of disrespect and insensitivity and ignores the struggles and needs of the undocumented student community on campus.”
CBP, likely aware of the disruptions and harassment it would face, decided to voluntarily withdraw its participation.
“Students won!” the petitioners exclaimed. “There is still much more work to be done at UCI and within public institutions, but together, we can definitely strive to create a safer and more inclusive environment for all students on campus.”
All students, except, of course, those who may have found a new career opportunity with CBP at the Career Fair, or those who believe that the “arbitrary boundary line” CBP patrols is actually quite relevant, or those who simply believe that CBP has a right to freely speak and advertise on campus.
Far from being an isolated incident, shutting down CBP is just the latest of the political left’s many “successes” in stopping “offensive” speech from being voiced on campus in the name of “inclusivity.” Websites like The College Fix and Campus Reform chronicle leftist students’ and administrators’ daily assaults on free speech, tolerance and ideological diversity on college campuses across the country.
Two days ago, for example a group of students at Williams College was verbally harassed and intimidated into disinviting a (female) speaker critical of feminism. Last week, the Wesleyan Student Assembly cut the school paper’s budget in retaliation for their publishing of an op-ed critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. This year, many innocuous political opinions like “America is the land of opportunity” were dubiously recast as “microaggressions” against racial and ethnic minorities by the UC Office of the President.
The widespread — and often times, institutionalized — hostility towards any point of view that deviates too far from the the political left (especially on issues like illegal immigration and race relations) is itself “non-inclusive” of many students. At UCI, even mildly conservative students, both undergraduate and graduate, are afraid to openly voice their opinions or question leftist dogmas handed down by the administration or circulated among students.
Many are afraid to post, comment on, or even “like” various articles on Facebook. Many worry their political views will negatively affect their grades and job prospects. Many are afraid to speak out in class. Many are unfairly smeared as “racist” or “sexist” and undergo other baseless character attacks that have far-reaching social repercussions among their peers.
This hostility creates a vacuum of political opposition on campus that robs many politically-neutral students of the opportunity to hear “both sides” of many arguments and invariably draws them to the left; which is, of course the goal of many campus activists.
Shutting down CBP was simply a political stunt. Contrary to what the petitioners claim, CBP’s presence on campus wouldn’t pose a physical threat to them or anyone else. It’s not as if the CBP was going to be running around checking IDs and detaining people.
While it is no doubt difficult for students directly affected by US policy surrounding illegal immigration and border security to be exposed to very different viewpoints on these issues, that doesn’t give them the right to stop outside groups from expressing their views or to stop other students from learning more about these issues which are so crucial to the future of America.
Students have a right to pursue and learn about any and all the career opportunities that are available to them. CBP has just as much of a right to recruit students on a public university campus as any other organization does.
If “inclusivity” is to mean anything, it needs to stop being treated as a one-way street.
Nick Gallo is a graduate student in the department of computer science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.