Obama Likens the Gov’t Trying to Enforce Points of View on College to the Soviet Union
WOMAN: "I'm currently a junior at Lincoln high school on the south side of Des Moines. I know you don't want to get involved with the presidential race at the moment. But a candidate has said they want to cut government spending to politically biased colleges. I was wondering if that would hurt the education system for those who depend on that or what it better education as a whole?"
OBAMA: "First of all, I did not hear this candidate say that. I have no idea what that means. [Laughter] President Obama: I suspect he does not even. -- Either. [Laughter] [Applause] President Obama: Look, the purpose of college is not just, as I said before, to transmit skills. It is also to widen your horizons, to make you a better citizen, to help you evaluate information, to help you make your way through the world, to help you be more creative. The way to do that is to create a space where a lot of ideas are presented and collide. And people are having arguments. And people are testing each other's theories. And over time, people learn from each other because they are getting out of their own narrow point of view and having a broader point of view. So, Arne I'm sure has the same expense I did. When I went to college, suddenly there were folks that did not think at all like me. If I had an opinion, they would look at me and say that is stupid. Then they would describe how they saw the world. They might have had different sets of politics or they might heavy different view -- have a different view about poverty or a different perspective on race. Sometimes their views would be infuriating to me, but it was because there was this space where you could interact with people who did not agree with you and had different backgrounds that I started testing my own assumptions. And sometimes, I changed my mind. Sometimes I realized maybe I have been too narrowminded. Maybe I did not take this into account. Maybe I should see this person's perspective. So, that is what college in part is all about. The idea you would have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time or what you should be taught, and if it is not the right thought or idea or perspective philosophy, that that -- that they would not get funding runs contrary to everything we believe about education. [Applause] President Obama: I guess that might work in the soviet union. But it does not work here. That is not who we are. That is not what we are about. One thing I do want to point out is it is not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal and maybe agree with me on budget issues who sometimes are not listening -- on a bunch of issues who sometimes are not listening to the other side. That is a problem, too. I was talking to a friend about this. I've heard of some college campuses where they don't want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative, or they don't want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. You know, I've got to tell you, I don't agree with that either. I don't agree you, when you become students at colleges, have to because old and protected from different -- have to be called -- coddled and protected from different points of view. [Applause] [Laughter]
President Obama: Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. But you should not silence them by saying you can't come because I am too sensitive to hear what