Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Spring 2018 (May 16, 2018)

Speaker Stirs Controversy


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May 15, 2018

An April 6 campus lecture by political philosopher Harvey Mansfield prompted heckling from some students and pointed questions from others who opposed the speaker’s views about gender and sexuality. Mansfield is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught for more than five decades. He is widely known as the author of a 2006 book titled Manliness.

Although students did not organize a formal protest against Mansfield’s presentation, some showed up to question his views. In fact, The Round Table student newspaper reported that all the questions students asked of the speaker challenged his ideas. After he made a comment about women being innately weaker than their husbands, one student asked Mansfield who was paying him to speak at Beloit. The question included profanity, and the student was asked to leave by a campus security officer.

The incident briefly rose to the top of a conservative political blog called The Power Line.

Beloiter Aaron Barlow’73, executive editor of the Academe blog and faculty editor of Academe—the magazine of the American Association of University Professors—responded with an Academe post that took issue with elements of The Power Line’s story, including its suggestion that alumni lash out at the college. Barlow argued that one student’s behavior does not represent an entire college and emphasized that, as an institution, Beloit College had welcomed Mansfield, “just as I would welcome anyone with a legitimate desire for discussion and debate on an appropriate topic to visit my classroom,” he wrote.  

Mansfield was invited to speak on campus by the Young Americans for Freedom, a student chapter of an organization dedicated to advancing conservatism on campuses across the country. 

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