President Obama on Monday said that college students should not be protected from differing points of view and should not reject guest speakers with a different or conservative point of view.
During an education town hall in Iowa, an audience member asked Obama about Ben Carson’s proposal that the Department of Education deny federal funding to colleges with “extreme political bias.” Obama said he hadn’t heard those comments.
“I have no idea what that means, and I suspect he doesn’t either,” Obama responded.
He then said that students who attend college need to use the opportunity to “widen your horizons.”
“The idea that you’d have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time or what you should be taught, and if it’s not the right thought, or idea, or perspective or philosophy, that person would be — that they wouldn’t get funding, runs contrary to everything we believe about education,” he continued. “I guess that might work in the Soviet Union, but it doesn’t work here. That’s not who we are.”
He then said that liberal college students need to listen to conservative ideas, referencing conservatives who have backed out of speeches on college campuses due to student protests.
“It’s not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too,” Obama said.
“I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women,” he continued. “I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.”
Obama said that students should debate speakers with differing views rather than “silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.'”