What’s the Cost? Impacts of ‘Free Speech’ demonstrations on College Campuses

Posted on October 30, 2017

On October 28, 2017, the National Socialist Movement, the League of the South, Vanguard America, and the Traditionalist Worker Party, planned two events entitled “White Lives Matter” in Middle Tennessee, near the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.[1] These groups all participated in the Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally earlier this year, and because of the violence and racist ideology expressed at that event, members of the campus community were justifiably concerned.[2] These planned protests unquestionably impacted MTSU, and this article explores several aspects of the impact these protests had on campus.

Of course, white supremacist action on or near university campuses is not new. Richard Spencer is currently on what he describes as a college tour, with stops at the University of Virginia and the University of Florida, leaving tumult and lawsuits in his wake.[3] The University of Florida spent upwards of $500,000 on security upgrades on campus and in the surrounding areas in preparation for the rally there, and the Florida government declared a state of emergency ahead of the speech.[4] In addition, various white supremacist organizations are recruiting on college campuses.[5] Taken together, these actions leave college campuses in the unfortunate position of determining how to allow for the free expressions of ideologies that conflict with the values of many members of the campus community, while maintaining the safety of all students. It is no surprise that the message that these groups tout is taken by many students as an affront to their very identity.

“Plays Well with Others”: Can Games Achieve Learning Outcomes?

Posted on July 15, 2017

“Let’s kill Jesus!”

Such words are not often heard from evangelical students at Christian colleges, and such playfulness is not usually associated with the sort of serious academic encounters that are expected in higher education. Yet, I listen to my devoutly religious students utter words like these every semester in the context of “The Jesus Game,” an elaborate role-playing game in which students encounter the familiar story of the Gospel of Matthew in a new light.

Democracy and Higher Education in Indonesia and the United States

Posted on June 9, 2017

I was a visiting research and teaching scholar at the Graduate School of the Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia during the fall semester of 2014. I co-taught 50 students in four graduate-level courses, including a Ph.D. seminar that explored whether an undergraduate Liberal Arts curriculum would empower Indonesian higher education and enhance Indonesian democracy.

We started our seminar with a discussion about cultural differences between Americans and Indonesians. I suggested, “Americans smile a lot.” My students objected, “Indonesians smile a lot” and “joke often.” As an example, my students joked that Indonesian higher education offered more “freedoms” than American higher education did: “Americans have copyrights; Indonesians have the right to copy.” I asked, “What are major differences between Indonesian and American cultures?” Without hesitation, my students responded, “Americans have rights. We have values.” I protested, “Americans have values, too.”