Author compares Brexit to Trump

Daily Titan

Joanna Williams, an author and education editor for, spoke at communications chair Jason Shephard’s communications law class about the influence academia has had on the Brexit vote in Great Britain and Trump’s election in America. (Sam Alston / Daily Titan)
Published author and education editor for, Joanna Williams, gave a speech at Cal State Fullerton about state of free speech in academia.
The campus talk “Free Speech at the University: Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity” took place in communications chair and professor Jason Shepard’s 11 a.m. communications law class.
Williams began by noting the parallels between Brexit and the presidential election of Donald Trump in regards to the response from academia.
She believes universities in America took a stance against Trump similarly to universities in Britain that urged students to vote to remain in the European Union.
Williams argued that the homogenous viewpoint of faculty is problematic because it can differ from the opinions of the general public.
“If your job is to comment on society, then I think it really helps to know what people off campus think about things,” Williams said.
In both situations, students had a “parallel” initial reaction of shock, Williams said, which she credits to the absence of opposing viewpoints.
“Students have been told now that they can be protected from things they find offensive,” Williams said.
As students continue to be told they are protected from speech they find offensive, their reaction toward those who think differently can become irrational.
By creating safe spaces and canceling classes, university administrators are validating students’ emotional responses, Williams said.
“I think academics have been responsible for teaching students that ideas or words can be dangerous and can inflict actual psychological harm on people,” Williams said.
In her speech, Williams introduces the term “generational snowflake,” which suggests millennials “melt” when …

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