Liberals erupt at college student’s NYT op-ed about being afraid to speak out on campus

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Liberals erupted on Twitter Monday after a self-described liberal college student spoke out about what she called the stifling of free speech on her university campus.

In a Monday guest essay for The New York Times, University of Virginia senior Emma Camp wrote that while she expected her college experience to be filled with “rigorous intellectual discussion,” she found that students have become fearful to speak their minds and engage in open debate. 


Camp said that her college experience had been defined by “strict ideological conformity,” described negative experiences she, as well as other students, had been subject to for giving non-conforming opinions, and implored universities to take action against the restriction of ideas and speech on campus.

The pressure lead many students to stop voicing their opinions in the classroom because backlash against “unpopular” ones was now commonplace, Camp wrote.  She also noted another student who identified as a conservative and sometimes “straight-up lied” about his beliefs to avoid clashing with others.

The column immediately drew ire from liberals on social media who’ve long chalked up complaints of censorship on college campuses to baseless right-wing talking points. Some angry users took direct aim at Camp for speaking out about her experience, while others scolded the New York Times for publishing the essay.

Students walk across The Lawn as in-person classes are underway at the University of Virginia on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. 

Students walk across The Lawn as in-person classes are underway at the University of Virginia on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. 
(Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)


MSNBC columnist and professor of religion and chair of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Religious Studies, blamed the column for making the Times “the laughingstock of Twitter.”

“To support this kind of silliness when the world is burning is why although there are great folks at the @nytimes it also has at least one day per week when it becomes the laughingstock of twitter,” Anetha Butler wrote. 

“It’s a shame,” Brown wrote in a follow-up post, “because there are great journalists and editors at the @nytimes who I worked with that I respect a great deal, but this constant drumbeat of ridiculous BS is tiring.”

The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal lamented that Camp was given “more of a platform” in the New York Times op-ed section than he was.

“The college woman complaining about being canceled in the New York Times has now gotten more of a platform in the New York Times to complain about people’s reactions to unpopular views *than I have,* to put things in a bit of perspective. :),” Mystal wrote.

NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins posted a photo-shopped image edited to include his take on the New York Times headline.

 “I came to college to fight people in class constantly,” it reads. “People didn’t like this for some reason??? Put me in the biggest newspaper you can find please.”

“Anyway, who’s really at fault here?” Collins wrote in a subsequent tweet. “The paper. Nobody should expect their popularity at college to be acceptable grist for the op-ed mill. Everyone says and does stupid things in college. It’s the place to do that! You grow there. The paper should not be capitalizing on that.”

Deputy communications director for progressive ‘Squad’ member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Isi Baehr-Breen also weighed in.

“I don’t think I’ve ever read a college student woke panic op-ed that didn’t boil down to “the problem is that my peers didn’t like my opinions about things” who cares,” he wrote. “My wife thinks its weird I like kpop, you don’t see me pitching the New York Times edit room about it.”

“White Christians, conservatives etc already have power, are not oppressed and have a calculated goal to mimic the language built by the oppressed in order to escape responsibility – IMO a publication like The NY Times only aids that bc they are invested in that narrative as well,” left-wing comedian Marcia Belsky wrote.

“”I’m being self-censored by publishing an op-ed in the New York Times.”  – a different aggrieved [white] woman every week, seemingly,” Senior Editor of Law and Policy for Rewire News Imani Gandy, chimed in.

“I have only this humble billboard and a message projected on to the moon,” mocked liberal author Maureen Johnson.


In her guest essay, Camp implored universities to stop canceling “controversial speakers” and caving to “unreasonable student demands,” adding they should also reward intellectual diversity in the classroom and discard restrictive speech codes.

“We cannot experience the full benefits of a university education without having our ideas challenged,” she wrote, “yet challenged in ways that allow us to grow.”

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