Universities have been in existence for many centuries, although a precise starting date is not known.
“It was, after all, in the High Middle Ages that the university came into existence… The precise origins of the very first universities are lost in obscurity, though the picture becomes ever clearer as we move into the thirteenth century. We cannot give exact dates for the appearance of universities at Paris and Bologna, Oxford and Cambridge, since they evolved over a period of time…”1
The original purpose of the university is “the creation of prepared minds.” 2 True, over the last century, we have seen much commercialization of higher education in the form of investment into research for the business and manufacturing worlds. In addition, the idea that colleges are to prepare students for more lucrative employment has somehow become the majority opinion.
All of that aside, an inherent mission of the university remains that it is to be an arena where a multitude of ideas can discussed and debated. The concept comes from “the Latin words universitas and universitatis (which) are generally thought of as the source of the word university.
These words are derived from universus / universeum / universa, meaning universe or universal.”3
The intrinsic purpose of the university was maintained in the 1960’s despite near anarchy occurring on some campuses when “progressive” ideas ranging from the validity of the Viet Nam War to sexual mores to questioning our form of government aggressively demanded to be heard. While many opposed the progressives, it was appropriate that these differences of opinion were allowed to be debated.
Now, after seven centuries of purposeful existence, the “university” is threatened with extinction. Since the 1960’s, a majority of U.S. universities have adopted the “progressive” social and political philosophies. However, in this new climate they have abandoned the fundamental purpose of the university by not allowing “conservatives” to speak on many campuses. Excuses for limiting the exchange of ideas include charges of not representing the university’s core values4 and false accusations of “hate speech” compelling the universities to say they cannot guarantee safety of the speaker or audience because of the expectation of violent protests.
These institutions of higher learning are abdicating their responsibility to “create prepared minds” via civilized discussion of opposing thoughts. They are ceasing to be universal in the testing of ideas.
An antonym for universal is “particular”.4 Consequently, institutions that “disinvited” conservative speakers last year such as Princeton University and American University should henceforth be known as Princeton Particularity and American Particularity.5
1 – “The Catholic Church and the Creation of the University,” by Thomas E. Woods Jr., http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/education/catholic-contributions/the-catholic-church-and-the-creation-of-the-university.html, 2005.
2 – “The Purpose of Higher Education: To Create Prepared Minds, “ by Andres Fortino, https://evolllution.com/opinions/the-purpose-of-higher-education-to-create-prepared-minds/, 6/26/2012.
4 – “Dis-invited: 4 Conservatives Not Welcome To Speak On College Campuses,” by Arissa D (Future Female Leaders cabinet member and a student at Yale University, http://futurefemaleleader.com/disinvited-conservatives-not-welcome/, 4/16/2017.