Villasenor Co-Authors Book on ‘Unassailable Ideas’ on Campuses

A new book by Public Policy Professor John Villasenor examines the dominant belief system on American campuses, its uncompromising enforcement through social media and the consequences for higher education. In “Unassailable Ideas: How Unwritten Rules and Social Media Shape Discourse in American Higher Education,” Villasenor and co-author Ilana Redstone argue that higher education is being reshaped by a campus culture that is increasingly intolerant to diverse views and open inquiry, a trend that is exacerbated by the narrow lens of social media. The book, which will be released Oct. 15, highlights a newly emerged environment in higher education that forecloses entire lines of research, entire discussions and entire ways of conducting classroom teaching. Following their critiques of the well-intentioned unwritten rules about identity on college campuses, Villasenor and Redstone present a set of recommendations to build a new campus climate that would be more tolerant toward diverse perspectives and open inquiry. The book has garnered praise from scholars including University of Pennsylvania Professor Jonathan Zimmerman, who said,  “The real danger to higher education isn’t a cabal of jack-booted censors but the much subtler forces that discourage us from critiquing our dominant assumptions about multiculturalism, discrimination and identity.” Cal State Los Angeles Sociology Professor Bradley Campbell said “Unassailable Ideas” is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the serious threat to free speech and academic freedom at American colleges and universities.

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