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Colleges overstepping boundaries when it comes to students' rights


If you use Google or Wikipedia, you may be familiar with something called SOPA. No, it’s not a national debate about Mexican soup. SOPA is legislation intended to censor the Internet, essentially suspending the constitutional rights of American citizens and corporations.

There’s a reason it was initially unknown to the public; when people realize their liberty is being stripped away they stand up for themselves. Without grassroots efforts by citizens and activists, SOPA would have become law. Fortunately, it did not.

Unfortunately, there are collusive interests operating behind closed doors and assaulting our freedom right here at Ole Miss. The ASB Senate voted not only in favor of the green fund, but also for an outright prohibition of smoking.

This is just a microcosm of what’s harming the country on a much broader scale — elitists stripping the public of its rights in the name of some greater good because they think they are intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us. It’s taking away your freedom so that you can be more free; it’s a blatant contradiction.

Only a sociopath would promote smoking or harming the environment. This is about something more compassionate than health and the environment, however; this is about individual rights. The green fund will force you to pay an additional fee with tuition. It presumes that you do not know how to use that money yourself and the environment is doomed without telling you how to live. It’s even being debated if people should be punished for smoking in their cars, extensions of their own personal property. These new rules are the SOPA of Ole Miss.

Justin Pope, one of the activists involved with passing these resolutions, said, “You’re taking rights away from people.” That may qualify as the most honest thing said on the matter. There’s no more eloquent way to put it — the college experience is under attack. 

College is about freedom and diversity. Until recently, universities operated to provide a liberal education; not liberal in the modern sense, but liberal in the classical sense — the education required to live life as a free human being by engaging in free thought. This model for the university has been hijacked and turned into an experiment of impractical ideologies that suppress dissenting opinions. College has lost its central role of imparting wisdom and values upon students to carry on as valuable citizens. It has now become a place to indoctrinate students, teach them to work like automatons and get them used to being told what to do by elitists. It treats young adults as if they’re still kids.

Saving the environment and telling people how to live a healthy lifestyle is not why Ole Miss exists. That kind of thinking is not what has kept this institution alive for 168 years. Creating an over-regulated and authoritarian institution under the guise of a university is a sacrilege to the men and women who made Ole Miss what it is for us today.

Ole Miss students have become so disenfranchised due to poor leadership, all the way from the athletics department to parking services. These new rules exploit one Ole Miss problem and create two more. We should strive for more fairness, more freedom of ideas and more individual liberty — the central foci of a university — not more ways to control the higher education environment.

There is one thing that people aiming to impose their will on others just don’t seem to understand: individuals change because of ideas, not coercion. They can ignore reality as long as they want, but they can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality — passing collectivist laws while giving the cold shoulder to opposing viewpoints is as toxic to the university as an oil spill is to the Gulf of Mexico.

In the name of fairness, Ole Miss needs to welcome lectures and courses discussing all angles of how environmentalism and health mandates affect society. It’s unlikely that will ever happen. However, doing so would reveal that these new rules are meritless.


Alec Jones is a junior accountancy major from Catonsville.