Many individuals have ridiculed students who oppose celebrity speakers. I support students’ right to object. In their courses, students are challenged to write essays that are free of logical fallacies and empty claims. Why should universities endorse speakers who thrive on spin and outrage?
Robert Reich of the University of California at Berkley argues that students should hear “vapid arguments” so that they can question the speaker. In reality, there is no genuine debate at these events, and if students object, they have likely heard the vapid arguments.
On the financial side, celebrities charge hefty fees, and those fees are often shared between a student organization and the university.
Students certainly can object to their tuition money going to bank accounts of people who enrich themselves by stirring outrage.
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Even if the fees were paid by an entity separate from the university, granting a venue on campus and security protection constitutes an institutional endorsement.
Perhaps, to foster the spirit of free speech, universities should set aside part of the quad for a weekly Free Speech Slam where anybody can sign up to make a speech about anything; however, they cannot receive compensation of any kind. I hope some celebrity speakers would still choose to participate.