Brown University officials give an alumni’s short film on censorship at the Ivy League school low marks, but the man behind the camera says students and faculty have told him it is “spot on.”
Rob Montz, who graduated in 2005 with a degree in philosophy, returned to the Providence, R.I., school to film and narrate a 13-minute documentary on the state of free speech at his alma mater. His findings, that the vaunted university’s liberal-minded administration stifled conservative voices, struck a chord with students and professors, he said.
“There hasn’t been a single student on campus or a single professor who I’ve been contacted by who’s said I was wrong,” he told FoxNews.com of the film called “Is the University Killing Free Speech and Open Debate?”
When Montz attended the school more than a decade ago, Republicans were few, but allowed to be heard, he said. He recalled the predominately liberal college maintained an academic climate that allowed for open inquiry and debate. What Montz found upon his return was that administrators have given in to the politically correct demands of students and the fears of being on the “wrong” side of a societal debate.
“The rational and robust clash of ideas is what fuels innovation and human progress,” Montz warned, adding that an attack on the open sharing of ideas is an attack on “democracy and society.”
The film, which has garnered hundreds of thousands of views since its release earlier this month on the web channel We the Internet TV, makes use of video from events on campus along with professor and student interviews to depict the anti-speech climate at Brown.
"Universities foster an environment where the exchange of ideas can lead to deepening of our human understanding," Economics Professor Glenn Loury, a sefl-descried liberal and supporter of Hillary Clinton, says in an interview. "These institutions are a fragile and precious achievement. This idea that we’re going to shut you up because we don’t like what you say -- that’s the enemy of this achievement. That’s what’s at stake."
Footage reveals incidents in which university administrators shut down events after student protesters aggressively chastised speakers for their divergent opinions, including a 2013 lecture by former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly in support of stop-and-frisk laws.
The following year, fury directed at campus guest speaker Wendy McElroy, a self-described feminist who has been critical of campus policies on sexual harassment and zero tolerance, was amplified by Brown University President Christina Paxson, who set up a competing lecture and released a campus-wide email condemning the speaker’s opinions on rape culture.
Such cases are indicative of a systemic flaw within universities, riddled with liberal faculty members who almost exclusively “converse with other people who share these ideological prejudices” and who have been allowed to “sit in their self-righteousness for decades,” Montz said.
“[Universities] train the next generation of people who are going to run this country,” said Montz, who will be speaking to students about free speech and screening his film on campuses this fall. “If you fail to impart in them this very basic value, that’s going to affect how they run their businesses or the city council.”
Brown University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt said no member of the administration had been in contact with Montz since the release of the video.
“If you spent time on our campus, you would see that we’re confronting real issues in an environment that promotes the free exchange of ideas,” she told FoxNews.com in an email. “By all appearances, this is an opinion piece — based on what a filmmaker deduced from media accounts — set to video.”
She went on to condemn the video as an “unfortunate example of characterizing what takes place on an entire campus based on mostly clips from social media.”
According to We the Internet TV spokeswoman Lana Link, this is the political comedy channel’s first “serious” video, posted alongside regular content because “you can’t have comedy without free speech.”
Editor's note: The political affiliation of Rob Montz was incorrectly characterized in a previous version of this story.