Another university tail wagging its dog


Stories of college students’ imposing their wills and views on administrations and faculties are running rampant. Often in the name of social justice or some other liberal term of art, student groups flex their muscles and find little resistance from adults in the room.

One more episode of a higher education tail wagging the dog came out of Texas last week. The setting for this most recent installment was the 9,200-student Texas Southern University, a historically black institution in Houston.

Texas Southern students co-opted the school’s spring commencement exercises when an invited speaker was perceived to have unappealing views on the Trump Administration, voter identification laws and so-called sanctuary cities.

The university’s core values of “inclusiveness” and “fairness” must only extend so far.

The invited speaker was the senior United States Senator from the second largest state in the nation, Texas. The three-term senator also serves as the second-in-command Majority Whip of the U.S. Senate. He is currently in the running to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

John Cornyn knows a thing or two about fairness. As a Texas Supreme Court Justice from 1990 – 1997 and as Texas Attorney General prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate, Cornyn decided and pleaded hundreds of cases based on the fair application of law.

Plus, the steady-as-a-rock lifelong public servant knows a thing or two about service, leadership and succeeding in life.

Nevertheless, in all their twenty-something years of wisdom, the Texas Southern students decided Mr. Cornyn offered them nothing of value: no word of advice, no tip for the future, not even a healthy exchange of opposing ideas.

Remarkably, the students pushed their administration to rescind Cornyn’s invitation. Noteworthy, the students left invitations to Democrat Congressmen Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green untouched.

As myopic as the students’ behavior was, the most tragic part of the story is this: there was no wise man or woman to hold the ground in the name of civil discourse or even historical significance.

“Every consideration is made to ensure that our students’ graduation day is a celebratory occasion and one they will remember positively for years to come,” the administration said in a statement.

In other words, students will receive their trophies in untainted homogeny.

Cornyn, a man of grace, graciously bowed out, though he must have wondered how many more collective forests we will miss in the face of stubborn ideological trees.

Contrast the Texas Southern story with that from another historically black university, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Its president, Edison Jackson, invited United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to speak at the school’s spring graduation. He then defended her right to express her ideas in the face of student jeering and turned backs.

DeVos has devoted much of her life to helping inner city children escape the burning houses of failing urban schools. President Jackson appreciates her achievements even if many of his young graduates do not.

The regents of Texas Southern University should seek out a leader of Jackson’s stature if the school wants to be taken seriously as a crucible where groundbreaking ideas form.

Otherwise, it will flop in the winds of popular positions held by people long on passion but short on perspective.


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