|Student demonstrators in January 1991 at the UGA Arch|
It appears that the leaders of major universities have new reasons and weapons to oppose student free speech rights, which were established in the 1960s following the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Now, expressions of concern about "safety" and "security" can be used to justify violent police actions to shut down student demonstrations, and university heads (presidents or chancellors or whatever) have large forces of black and blue clad ass-kickers, bearing the fanciest of weapons, to enforce their edicts.
Third, university presidents now have small armies of armed police officers to get rid of problems such as uncooperative students saying things that might interrupt the sales pitch to donors. When I was attending university in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the campus cops were hired mainly to enforce traffic laws and to keep things calm at athletic events and fraternity parties. They did not have weapons, and for years efforts to arm them were resisted. They certainly did not walk around in riot gear or SWAT outfits.
O.K., maybe I am wrong in my explanation of what is happening on these campuses, and maybe there are better explanations for police violence to shut up students. For example, see these other explanations:
However even if my understanding is wrong, I still cannot conceive of a reason why a college president needs an army -- black-shirted SWAT-like special ops commandos -- to deal with non-threatening students who are trying to express their opinions. Nor do I believe that after a president or chancellor unleashes this army, he or she can credibly declare his or her horror at the results.
Let's take the army away from the presidents and chancellors, and give them back campus cops, preferably with minimal weaponry, instead.