Saturday, September 29, 2018

Outrageous Behavior Of Liberal College Students

"A toxic combination of identity politics, an increasing tendency to perceive campus problems as medical problems, and altered parenting styles has produced a student body intent on ridding their environment of any ideas deemed threatening. This requires the bastardization of language. Though the mainstream media portrays campuses as extraordinarily unsafe, the crime rate at most U.S. universities is far below the national average (not counting underage drinking). But the perceived danger has called forth a new vocabulary, with “vulnerable” students demanding “safe spaces” to protect them from the unknown. The label “vulnerable,” first used by U.S. media to refer to university students in 1991, appeared 1,407 times in indexed publications in 2015-16. The “remarkable increase in allusions to the vulnerability of students,” [Frank] Furedi writes, “provides a striking illustration of an important transformation of the way that university students are represented and perceived.”

Students and their bureaucratic campus allies demand protection in a variety of ways. “Safe spaces”—like vulnerability, a term that has proliferated and broadened in meaning in recent years—allow students to avoid viewpoints with which they disagree. … Combating “microaggressions,” meanwhile, provides cover for restricting the most innocent speech, if “marginalized” students interpret it (regardless of intent) as hurtful. Students obsessed with identity politics perceive “slights as a form of victimization” and employ “rhetoric that continually reminds the world of [their] victim status.” …

Campus social life is an easy target for adherents of this new, infantilized order. Harvard’s senior administration recently resolved to penalize students for joining off-campus, private, single-sex social clubs—a policy enforceable only if students report on their colleagues. … At Bowdoin in early 2016 some students held a tequila-themed birthday party. Moved to act by the “traumatizing” presence of tiny sombreros, the school offered counseling to students “victimized” by the morally offensive “cultural appropriation.” Two student government members who attended the party faced impeachment hearings. Other students had to move out of their dorm. It’s no surprise that some Bowdoin undergraduates informed the Washington Post that the lesson they learned from the affair was to keep their opinions to themselves.

Calls for outright restrictions on campus speech have become common. Writing in Slate, University of Chicago Law School professor Eric Posner justifies campus speech codes on the grounds that “students today are more like children than adults and need protection.” He contends that speech codes, far from reflecting the ideological agenda of “lefty professors” (although speech codes are almost always targeted at non-leftist speech), are popular because “universities are simply catering to demand in the marketplace for education,” supplying “what most students want.”

KC Johnson, "Rage of the Snowflakes"

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