President Barack Obama held a town hall on college access and affordability in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, where he took questions from local high school students and their parents.
During one impassioned response, he waded into the discussion over political dialogue on college campuses and said students should not be “coddled” from opposing political viewpoints.
“I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative,” Obama said.
“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. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views.”
His statement came in response to a question from a junior at Lincoln High School, who asked the president what he thought about threats from presidential candidates that they would cut government spending at biased schools. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has offered a version of this type of proposal.
“I know you don’t want to get involved with the presidential race at the moment, but a candidate has said that they want to cut government spending to politically biased colleges, and I was wondering if, say, that would hurt the education system for those who depend on that, or would it better the education as a whole?” the student asked.
Though Obama explained any mode of thinking where someone in governement decides what should and should not be taught “runs contrary to everything we believe about education,” he didn’t let students off the hook.
He implored students not to become so sensitive that they try to silence individuals with differing opinions.
“That’s not the way we learn, either,” he said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.