This week, Mosaic editor and podcast host Jonathan Silver steps into the arena of campus conflict. Alexandra Orbuch is a junior at Princeton, while Gabriel Diamond is a senior at Yale and the co-author of an essay in the New York Times entitled “What is Happening on College Campuses is Not Free Speech.” Zach Kessel recently graduated from Northwest and is a fellow at National Review as well as at Tikvah. The three come from different places in the country, have different kinds of religious practices, study different subjects, and none intended to become college activists. Yet all three have found themselves caught up in what they all see as a deteriorating climate for young American Jews.

Do arguments over messages scribbled in chalk on the sidewalk or the presence or absence of posters on message boards matter? These three think they do, and ably explain why. The attitudes that are crystalizing in American universities, particularly elite ones, have a disproportionately large impact on American culture by virtue of the disproportionately large power of their graduates. In other words, questions of chalk messages and posters become proxy expressions of power.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.