‘We Will Remember What They Try To Cancel:’ New Database Quantifies Campus Cancel Culture

‘We Will Remember What They Try To Cancel:’ New Database Quantifies Campus Cancel Culture

'Why do universities want to apologize for their past and erase their past? They're convinced that America should be ashamed of itself,' College Fix lead Jennifer Kabbany said.
Haley Strack
By

Documenting hundreds of doxxed professors, postponed student events, and torn-down statues, the College Fix’s new database quantifies how cancel culture affects college campuses. The publication’s “Campus Cancel Culture Database” chronicles attempted or confirmed cancellations across campuses, detailing assaults on freedom of speech, religious freedom, controversial political ideas, and more.

“We want to remember what they’re trying to cancel. We want to document it, chronicle it,” said Jennifer Kabbany, editor-in-chief of the College Fix. “We don’t want to let them be successful in their cancellations — we’re going to make sure it’s remembered that this stood here once.” 

The crowdsourced database organizes cancellations by specifying the date and college or university involved, and can be narrowed by genre, Confederate and non-Confederate items, and if the incident was canceled or protested. It lists more than 650 cancelations and 750 attempted cancelations — including guest speakers who have been protested or disinvited from campuses and students and professors who have been chastised or banned for conservative opinions.

Although the database spans a decade and tracks more than 1,400 canceled targets, the project began with one goal in mind: Memorializing art lost to cancel culture.

“You have heard about all the art we’ve lost, but what about all the statues we’ve lost and what about the guest speakers who have been canceled and what about all the honorary degrees that have been revoked,” Kabbany said. “What about the student events that have been shut down? The project spiraled, because when you start to think about everything that has been targeted, censored, disinvited, and canceled on campus, it’s never-ending. The list goes on and on.”

The list does go on — to the tune of hundreds of cancelations from hundreds of universities. From banned movies and books to protested conservative speakers to revoked building names, Kabbany said there was no shortage of cancellations to add. Although the College Fix chose to focus on cancel culture in higher education, the team was overwhelmed by just how deeply this dynamic went.

“We wanted to own the higher education space — this is our wheelhouse. This is what we specialize in focusing on, what’s going on in colleges and universities, so we wanted to own this space and cover it to the best of our ability,” she said. “When we were creating the database we had hundreds of K-12 examples, but we ended up focusing on higher education — if we added in K-12, the database would never get done.”  

When Kabbany’s team compiled hundreds of entries for the database, they started with a precise definition of cancel culture: Any effort by people or groups to identify someone or something as offensive or unacceptable, and seek in some way to censor or punish the transgressor or item. 

“When we were looking at a protest we wouldn’t include your run of the mill protest. We didn’t include graduation walkouts, because that is a conscientious objector walking out of a crowd ceremony. If there was a petition to disinvite a grad speaker, it would make the list,” Kabbany said.

Every entry links to an article that explains the specific cancelation. Articles are vetted and confirmed by professors, students, and when possible, the schools themselves.

From Milo Yiannopolous protests in California to torn down Confederate statues, many of the articles strike nostalgia for conservative students who have experienced widespread campus cancel culture themselves. A quick look through the database is sentimental — and laughable.

Muhlenberg College administrators retroactively canceled themselves after the institution’s president apologized for a play that was performed more than 10 years prior. Students, Kabbany said, were quite clearly scouring the school’s archives to find something to complain about.

“Students had to go and find something to be offended about and had to dig into the bowels of the internet. That goes to show you what we’re up against here — anything from the past is fair game,” she said.

At Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, protestors demanded that school officials “remove or modify” the name of a campus building. The building, named after one of the college’s past presidents, Clyde A. Lynch, came under fire due to the name’s “associated racial connotations.”

“Anyone with half a brain would know that the name has nothing to do with racial connotations. It’s the last name of a very generous donor who probably helped fund many of these students,” said a graduate of the college.

Kabbany, who spent most of her year spearheading the project, said the database memorializes lost culture. The perfect example, she said, occurred at the University of Virginia, where students tore down a statue of a soldier who fought in the American Revolution.

“It was hauled off campus, but we remember it was there and we have a picture of it and we have a link to an article saying that it used to be there,” Kabbany said. “And you may have canceled it on campus, but this database will stand the test of time to remember all that has been erased by this Orwellian progressive leftist activism.”

The College Fix contacted many colleges and universities to verify stories — and no surprise, universities were eager to apologize for their pasts.

“Why do universities want to apologize for their past and erase their past? They’re convinced that America should be ashamed of itself,” Kabbany said. “They’re convinced that America needs to be destroyed and rebuilt in some sort of socialistic utopia. They’re convinced that the only way to make up for our path is to destroy what we built.”

Hopefully, students, professors, and parents will pay attention to the database — and use it to inform decisions for their futures. Luckily, Kabbany mentioned, there are several alternatives to cancel culture — and several reasons to retain hope.

The 1776 curriculum, for example, which stemmed from the Trump administration’s 1776 commission, is a viable option for classical learning that aims to strengthen civic understanding. Wilfred McClay’s “Land of Hope,” a history book used in college classes, describes American history with honesty and context. Cross-country school board critical race theory protests and interest in homeschooling are growing and could result in a movement that will fight cancel culture.

“It’s like turning the Queen Mary. It’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, but we’re documenting cancel culture phenomena while other resources are gaining steam,” Kabbany said. 

The hundreds of entries organized in the database are just the start — but a good start. Thanks to the College Fix, hundreds of professors, students, statues, paintings, and books are preserved — and even though many were lost to cancel culture, their legacies will live on.

“Cancel culture is a tumor in the American body. But we don’t want them to succeed,” Kabbany said. “We see weekly headlines that we read, remember, and then forget. The database is the one place cancel culture won’t be forgotten.”

Haley Strack is an intern at The Federalist and a student at Hillsdale College studying politics and journalism. Follow her on Twitter @StrackHaley or reach her at [email protected]

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