College student speaks out: Hate speech deserves no place in discourse

The voice that tells women, people of color, differently abled, low income, trans, and queer people that we should ask for less, need less, deserve less, that we are less — this is a voice that no longer needs a microphone.
That voice has been an omnipotent presence in our lives since before we were conscious that we could hear it. Those of us involved in the protests at Middlebury College on March 2 earned our place at Middlebury in spite of that voice, by actively fighting against that voice.
This is not an issue of free speech. The First Amendment makes no promises on the behalf of college students or private institutions. It does not guarantee a respectful audience.
I would add that hate speech is not free speech. Speech that discourages our peers from considering us equals, that informs us of our inferior status, that fundamentally negates our humanity — that deserves no place at our college or in our intellectual discourse.
Charles Murray has never been peer-reviewed; he has been denounced by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist; his academic methods have been debunked — frequently — since before the students protesting him even knew we wanted to be scholars.
So, not only does he peddle a poisonous rhetoric of hate that fosters a climate that excuses civil rights violations, he is also unqualified to lecture at our institution.
This is not a matter of a differing opinion. Charles Murray actively contributes to discourses that encourage various kinds of violence against disadvantaged and minority communities. This violence has been inflicted upon our bodies and minds for centuries. We are familiar with it. We do not need to make more room for it in our minds, in our days, or in our educational institutions.
We should be done fighting for our right to be here; we should be done convincing people that we are intelligent and capable and human. But that battle is not over and so here we are, fighting it.
In the time that we could be spending doing homework, or searching for jobs, or applying for fellowships, or volunteering, or with our loved ones, we are instead convincing our peers, faculty, administration, and now the media that we are legitimate members of our intellectual and global communities. Again we are reduced to creating a space for ourselves instead of bettering one that should already exist.
We have been called a “rioting mob.” Our campus has been referred to as “the front.” President Laurie Patton has apologized for us and promised “an independent investigation” to determine “a course of action for each individual understood to be involved in some way in the events of last Thursday.” Matthew Dickinson, a tenured professor of political science, posted a tweet condemning our actions with the hashtag “NotMyMiddlebury.”
The actions of those who were violent were reprehensible. There were, however, hundreds of students who took part in the nonviolent protesting on Thursday. Very few were involved in that despicable aggression. And yet, leaders in our administration and faculty have essentially disowned all of the protestors … Disowned those of us who already needed to defend our place at Middlebury and in the world.
The college is simultaneously refusing to claim us and hiding behind empty assurances that we earned our place here and that we belong. We know we earned our place here and we know we should belong. That is why we protested. That is why we will continue to fight.
The college is happy to claim us when we improve its diversity statistics and when our GPAs, athletic skills, and creative talents attract more donations and boost our national rankings. But now, when we rise against dangerous hatred disguised as intellectual discourse and backed by subpar academics, we remain unclaimed and unsupported by the institution.
Silencing a man who has dedicated his life, his intellect, and his resources to denying our humanity is not an act that infringes upon free speech; it is an act of self-defense. Our fight to be included in and represented by our college should be one that is supported by our faculty and administration. We have never been silent, but perhaps now we will be heard. 

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