The bureaucratic behemoth that is the University of Michigan is intimidating students with a program that could potentially punish students for exercising their First Amendment rights if UM determines the speech constitutes “bias.” This is an especially ominous prospect for conservative students.
It would not be surprising if the university classified opposition to leftist groups like Black Lives Matter as “bias.” The university might also label criticism of cultural practices like female genital mutilation in the Muslim community as “biased” speech. Many conservative students opt to remain silent in their desire to graduate without a disciplinary record full of "bias" reprimands.
The bias incident report process and bias response team are merely a tool of leftist thought police to coddle grown adults, silence conservatives, and protect their monopoly of ideas.
Not only does the “bias incident” system chill speech, but what I experienced as a student when I filed a bias incident report at the University of Michigan proves the system to be advantageous for liberals.
As part of one of our annual activism projects, our Young Americans for Freedom chapter built and tore down a mock Berlin Wall to commemorate the anniversary of the wall’s fall on Nov. 9.
Before we tore the wall down, we were met with hostile aggression by a group of self-identified Black Lives Matter activists. Several of their members vandalized our wall, spray painting “Black Lives Matter,” “F@#! White Supremacy,” and purposefully crossing out any reference to free speech on the wall. All of this was ironic since the whole point of the wall was advocating for individual liberty for all people.
Normally I file a police report for such an incident, as this defacement constitutes a crime. Instead, I thought this would be a chance to test out the University of Michigan’s bizarre bias response system that I’ve railed against for years.
After filling out a form online, I received an email from the bias incident prevention and response coordinator. In her email, she said she was “sorry” that I’d experienced what I described, and wanted to speak with me about the “impact” the incident had on me. I agreed to the meeting.
On the day of the meeting, I walked into the dean of students' office suite in the Michigan Union and found out that the bias response coordinator has her own office. Indeed, there are nearly 100 full-time diversity staff members at the University of Michigan according to a recent report. I told the bias response coordinator about the incident and asked her about what the office plans to do with my incident report.
From my notes, she promised me that she would investigate the matter, and could pursue a “variety” of remedies.
After the meeting, I received an email that she was dropping the case against the Black Lives Matter vandals because, she claims, “an official student organization by that name does not exist.”
Instead of reviewing security camera footage or reaching out to the groups who’ve organized Black Lives Matter protests in the past, she simply dropped the case.
It appears that the University of Michigan's bias response system is viewpoint discriminatory, favoring and defending liberal views while brushing aside incidents that target conservative activism.
The University of Michigan's bias response system not only chills speech on campus but allows administrators to use their own discretion in prioritizing reports against conservative students while suppressing any reports of leftist bias. It’s time for this tool for leftist indoctrination to go.
Grant Strobl is national chairman of Young Americans for Freedom and a 2018 graduate of the University of Michigan.