I fear the University of Denver is more an indicator than an outlier:
Members of two conservative groups at the University of Denver say their organizations are likely disbanding after investigations by the university and pervasive harassment by fellow students have made the campus a “toxic environment” for their groups.
The school’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom debated closing at the end of last year, with its members fearful that they would be unable to land jobs after being investigated for “hate speech” and labeled racists and white supremacists in, among other places, the school newspaper. The group remains on campus, but with severely reduced numbers.
The Federalist Society there, meanwhile, has dwindled to a single student, and is set to shut down at the end of the year when the last remaining member graduates. Pervasive bullying and concerns about being called racist induced many of its members to depart this year.
Conservative students are getting a taste of what it’s like to be constantly under attack, and many are explicitly worried about what might happen to their future job prospects when they’re publicly labeled — even with no basis whatsoever — as racists and -phobes. When one side of public discourse treats the other side’s opinions as not only illegitimate, but a form of violence, and when the people who control our society’s institutions don’t enforce neutral rules, standing up for principles crosses over from a brave learning experience to a potentially reckless eccentricity. Better just to keep quiet.
I’m still hopeful that the United States can snap back from this (with the help of us reckless eccentrics), but that isn’t assured. In any event, we’re certainly getting a lesson in how a society can slide from freedom and dynamism into of suppression and injustice.