How a Professor Banned the Word “Illegal”

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Thursday, November 15, 2018


In most universities, first-year students take a “seminar for freshmen,” a course unrelated to the student’s major that allows them to study something that they wouldn’t be interested in otherwise. At Suffolk University in Boston, I took Global Challenges in Film. The professor, while engaging and kind, created class policies that went against her otherwise friendly demeanor.

In this course, we study films from the francosphere, foreign movies from French-speaking countries. A few weeks ago, our class viewed a movie by a Tunisian director called Foreign Body. A movie about a Tunisian refugee who illegally entered France by way of the Mediterranean Sea.

During our discussion of the film in class, the professor announced that she had banned the word “illegal” in our discussions and papers because “people cannot be illegal.” The word will not affect any students grade— we can still use the word in our papers— but she will cross it out and would rather not see it. Coming from a small, relatively conservative town in south-eastern Massachusetts, I had never heard of a teacher banning a word; I dealt with liberals on almost a daily basis, but I had never had a teacher ban a word outright.

I felt obliged to respond. I told the professor that the term illegal immigrant did not mean that the person was illegal; it means that their act of immigrating was done illegally. While they have committed a crime, the personhood of the illegal immigrant itself never became illegal. The professor just brushed that aside as semantics and continued on with the discussion; the policy for that word still in place.

We moved on to Human Flow by Ai Weiwei, a documentary about the global refugee crisis. A Bulgarian international student, who had lived in Germany for a time, shared her first-hand experience with refugees. She said that Germany was struggling to take in all of the refugees, and could not afford to have open borders like the professor was proposing. I agreed.

As the next person to speak in the discussion, I brought up the fact that countries that have taken in refugees have seen significant spikes in crime around the refugee camps, especially in rapes. These two groups of people, I explained, refugees and Germans, come from completely vastly divergent cultures, and it makes sense that there would be issues where the two culture combined. The professor warned that I was getting dangerously close to racism and bigotry.

Despite these experiences, the professor is a nice person with whom I happen to have some disagreements. My grade has not suffered due to my views. Being a conservative on a college campus— especially a college campus in Boston— is a challenge, but it should be welcome. It will enable them to defend their beliefs, having survived four years (at least) of practice around far-left lunacy.

The professor is otherwise a engaging professor with quality insight and challenge. However, it shows that the bias in the universities, which conservatives decry, is truly present, but in a far softer way than many assume. The majority of attacks on conservatives come not in riots or broad sweeping policies, but the little remarks and silibi that undercut conservative values. It’s a challenge, but a welcome one.

Matt is a freshman Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major at Suffolk University in Boston. He is originally from Lakeville, MA, and has worked on Geoff Diehl’s 2018 Senate campaign against Elizabeth Warren. Matt plans on attending law school after college with hopes of working in the political sphere in some capacity.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Matthew Lewis

Suffolk University

Matt is a freshman Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major at Suffolk University in Boston. He is originally from Lakeville, MA, and has worked on Geoff Diehl’s 2018 Senate campaign against Elizabeth Warren. Matt plans on attending law school after college with hopes of working in the political sphere in some capacity.

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