Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) President Everett Piper has had enough with the “snowflake rebellion,” and declared again that he will not cave in to the demands of easily offended students who are often seen violently protesting perceived slights with regards to LGBT issues, pro-life arguments, immigration, race, Islam, “climate change,” and other hot-button topics.
He is fed up with overly sensitive students at OKWU and elsewhere dictating to school administrators what students and instructors should be allowed to say on campus and what should be censored – such as the free speech of Christian students who share a biblical worldview.
“It seems that hardly a day goes by when the call for ‘safe spaces’ and ‘speech codes’ is not headline news,” Piper wrote in a Christian Post op-ed. “Every week there are too many stories to count of colleges and universities showing themselves to be more bastions of ideological fascism than bulwarks of intellectual liberty; where students and faculty alike seem to be more passionate about restricting debate than they are about defending the freedom to disagree.”
After dealing with the issue in a previous school year on his own campus, Piper addressed the issue again last month after conservative icon Ann Coulter became another victim of the snowflake rebellion when, UC Berkeley retracted her invitation to speak because students protested her conservative ideals on everything from immigration to Islam.
“I am not writing to affirm or refute Ann Coulter or her views – I am writing to implore Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks – and all other leaders of America's educational community – to remember our industry's rich history of the liberal arts,” the head of Wesleyan asserted. “I am writing to plead with my colleagues to stand firm for the academy's millennia-old commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of inquiry, and freedom of thought. I am writing on behalf of liberty. I am writing because I believe in classical liberalism. I am writing because I believe in human freedom. I am writing because I believe in truth.”
He impressed that the art of debate and the concept of agreeing to disagree with those of opposing viewpoints are becoming things of the past.
“What has happened to the Ivory Tower?” Piper posed. “Whatever became of the free exchange of ideas? Whatever happened to the value of a good argument? When did the desire to learn become supplanted by the ‘right’ to be affirmed? When did education become more interested in celebrating personal feelings than pursuing objective facts?”
The outspoken university leader has had enough of the tolerance indoctrination, which silences the viewpoints of students, faculty and administration every time an overly emotional student gets offended … when people do not embrace their behavior or beliefs – no matter how outrageous it is.
“The answer to the riots and rebellion that Berkeley and many other college campuses are facing is not found in the tyranny of false ‘tolerance’ or the ideological safety of ‘trigger warnings,’" Piper asserted. “It isn't found in more restrictions and more legalism. It isn't found in perpetuating victimization, violence or vengeance. It is found in returning to the age-old mission of the liberal arts academy: In veritas in the pursuit of truth and in its desired behavioral outcome: the practice and virtue of love. As C.S. Lewis told us in the Chronicles of Narnia, it is found in what is good – not in what is safe.”
He then called Berkeley’s leader out on his inability to call a spade a spade – pointing out that he had the audacity to call the censorship taking place on his campus “free speech.”
“Chancellor Dirks has stated that Berkeley is the home of the Free Speech Movement – I would beg to differ,” the Oklahoman argued. “Human freedom – intellectual or otherwise – was not born in Berkeley, California, but rather in a community called Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. The fundamental principles of higher education are grounded in the words of the Word; that Truth that was made flesh and dwelled among us – In the Logos – in the eternal preexistent ‘alphabet:’ the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.”
Dealing with his own snowflakes
Piper dealt with the snowflake syndrome on his own campus in the Sooner State in November 2015, when a student approached him about the offensiveness of Scripture.
“I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt ‘victimized’ by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13,” Piper wrote in an open letter that is still posted on OKWU’s website. “It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him – and his peers – feel uncomfortable. I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater,’ a ‘bigot,’ an ‘oppressor’ and a ‘victimizer.’”
He followed up with some words of wisdom that he offered to the weak-stomached student.
“I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen,” Piper continued. “That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins – not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.”
Then came his candid advice for the wayward student who was headed down the self-destructive road of victimization.
“If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for,” Piper warned. “If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place. If you’re more interested in playing the ‘hater’ card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.”
He then unapologetically told the misled student that OKWU teaches according to the Bible – not the dictates of the politically correct agenda that was touted by the then Obama administration, where everyone on campus could be considered “an offended observer.”
“At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered,” Piper concluded. “We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue ’trigger warnings’ before altar calls. Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a ‘safe place,’ but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.”
Piper recently explained that the original intent behind a liberal arts education at today’s colleges and universities has all but disappeared.
“The classical liberal is someone who stands for freedom, for liberty and for liberation,” Piper told WND and Radio America. “What we see today within the American academy is the shutting down of ideas. We see ideological fascism rather than academic freedom. The conservative voice is actually more classically liberal because we’re arguing for an open, robust exchange of ideas. Why? Because we can trust truth to judge the debate rather than politics or power.”
Ideologies are now taught at universities as being more important than the truth – both on campus and off.
“We’ve taught lousy ideas for decades in the academy, and we’re seeing lousy behavior on the campus green and in the campus quad today,” Piper added. “These student rebellions – these snowflake rebellions, trigger warnings, microaggressions and safe spaces – are being called for because we’ve taught these kids this intellectual mush and this ideological narcissism and nihilism.”
He sees secular humanism – which rejects the idea that there are universal rights and wrongs – as a cancerous disease leading students down a wayward path.
“We hear people say things like, ‘I hate these hateful people,’ ‘I’m sure that nothing’s sure,’ ‘I’m absolutely confident there are no absolutes,’ and ‘I can’t tolerate your intolerance,’” Piper pointed out. “It’s self-refuting at every turn. The reason we see this is because we started teaching this type of nihilism and intellectual relativism and intellectual mush some three, four, five decades ago. When you teach good ideas, you get good culture, good kids, good community, good government, good church, etc. When you teach bad ideas, you get the opposite.”
The university president based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, then offered why be believes campus administrators are not standing up to snowflake students.
“I’ll be very blunt here: lack of spine, lack of courage, lack of conviction,” Piper contended. “They’re more interested in capitulation and compromise. We’re more interested in a conversation than we are in demonstrating conviction and purpose and principle. We don’t seem to have the heart and the soul to engage in the things that are right and just and true.”
He also noted that oftentimes, administrators share the same politically correct views as the protesting students, and therefore back up their complaints.
“We call for justice, but deny that there is a Judge,” Piper concluded. “We argue that we want tolerance, but then act intolerable to anybody we can’t tolerate. Our administrators and our presidents and our professors parrot this pablum. They don’t have the conviction and the spine.”