By Jesse Byrnes
President Obama is weighing in on the discussion over political dialogue on college campuses, saying students shouldn't be "coddled" from opposing views.
"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," Obama continued.
"I’ve got to tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views," he said.
Debate over sensitivity on college campuses has garnered increased attention recently, including over trigger warnings for course material, safe spaces on campuses and boycotts of prospective campus speakers such as Condoleezza Rice.
Comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have also blasted oversensitivity of college students.
"Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, you can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say. That’s not the way we learn, either," Obama said Monday in Iowa.
The remarks came after Obama fielded a question about cutting funding for colleges with political bias, something advocated by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.
Obama responded by saying that college is not just learning skills, but also broadening one's knowledge base and gaining critical thinking and other life skills.
"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," Obama said.
"The idea that you’d have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time or what you should be taught, and if it’s not the right thought or idea or perspective or philosophy, that that person would be — that they wouldn’t get funding runs contrary to everything we believe about education," he said.
"I mean, I guess that might work in the Soviet Union, but it doesn’t work here. That’s not who we are. That’s not what we’re about."