Higher ed's PC addiction

Political correctness is an addiction in higher education. Administrators can be counseled for wasting their productive hours and resources on such pointless, self-destructive behaviors, but sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes they need an intervention.

The elected Board of Regents and top brass at UNLV are in need of such outside help. They've all been warned about the legal hazards of their efforts to create academic environments where no one ever gets their feelings hurt, where the easily offended can seek retribution anonymously and where students are granted no due process rights before being remanded for re-education.

On Thursday, the Board of Regents heard a review of UNLV's proposed "hate crimes" policy, conveniently overlooking the fact that there is no such thing as a hate crime in Nevada statutes (the state has sentencing enhancements for some criminal convictions). UNLV was following up on a regents mandate to prevent and punish hate crimes on the state's college and university campuses.

The UNLV policy had once reached far beyond the regents' request to include a separate policy on "bias incidents," which required UNLV police to respond to incidents of free expression that left anyone feeling offended. It was roundly trashed by faculty members, the ACLU and Chancellor Jim Rogers as an obviously unconstitutional affront to academic freedom and protected speech. Cal Poly recently quashed just such a speech-policing program.

Fortunately, that portion of the policy was removed.

But no one raised objections Thursday to the hate crimes policy, nor to the deeply flawed board mandate that led to its creation. Regents and appointed UNLV administrators do not have the authority to make law. They can't unilaterally declare something to be a crime, much less craft their own punishments for it. Existing state law adequately covers everything from simple assaults to stalking.

Worse, UNLV's political correctness czar, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Christine Clark, said the issue of campus bias would be revisited in a few months. In other words, UNLV leaders soon will return to the business of trying to police and stamp out biases unlike their own.

It's clear that no one within the university system can be counted upon to end this horrible addiction. It's up to voters to intervene. They need to contact their regents and demand that taxpayer-funded campuses encourage a free-flowing exchange of ideas from people with a variety of perspectives -- biases -- and that students should learn to debate and defend their own beliefs, not be allowed to seek the secret punishment of their peers.