Chicago Thinker staff writerDaniel Schmidt blasted TheChicago Maroon, the University of Chicago’s entrenched student publication, on the nationally syndicated Larry Elder Show. Schmidt, who says he was “by far the only remotely conservative person at the Maroon,” discussed how he was unceremoniously fired as a columnist from the student paper last month for challenging fellow columnist Irene Qi to a debate over the university’s mask mandates.
Schmidt’s arguments have since won the day, with UChicago ending its mask mandates in non-instructional university spaces in early March and, effective March 19th, in classrooms.
In early February, Qi penned a hit piece against Associate Professor Rachel Fulton Brown, arguing that Brown’s criticisms of the university’s COVID policies were “dangerous” and an “embarrassment” to UChicago. In response, Schmidt challenged Qi to a debate and pointed out the hypocrisy of her condemnation given that she has posted multiple Instagram photos of herself partying without a mask.
“I just asked a very basic question. I asked [Qi]: ‘Why are you expressing these views while you’re out and about not wearing masks? How is that fair? Do you not see the hypocrisy?’ And then I challenged her to debate,” said Schmidt. Senior members of the Maroon claimed this constituted “concerning conduct,” and, according to Schmidt, “said what I was doing was as egregious as harming somebody.”
“Initially, the editors wanted to meet with me [. . .] to discuss my quote-unquote ‘concerning conduct,’” Schmidt explained. He agreed to meet with the Maroon editors, but asked that he be allowed to record the meeting. Following his request, the editors canceled the meeting and informed Schmidt of his firing.
Schmidt said that the Maroon editors “should be ashamed of themselves,” yet he was not surprised by their behavior. He argues that this incident reflects a greater trend in which progressives successfully avoid discussions on serious issues by ignoring or silencing people with whom they disagree.
“I attend an elite school,” Schmidt explained, “and that is sort of how things are going nowadays [in academia]. You cannot challenge somebody to a debate because that is ‘hate speech’ and you are ‘violating’ them.”
Elder shared a similar sentiment, noting UChicago’s history as an academic stalwart. “I’m old enough to remember when Milton Friedman used to teach at your school. What happened?”
“The University of Chicago was always known as this sort of unorthodox elite school. You know, people here actually had difficult conversations,” said Schmidt. “Frankly, that’s why I came to this school. And that’s why a lot of people came to this school.”
Schmidt believes TheMaroon debacle is indicative of the university community’s failure to live up to its brand and promise. But the Maroon’s partisanship aside, students can look forward to being unmasked spring quarter.