The group of young people gathered around the square, talking slowly at first about the email, but the speed and tempo at which they spoke picked up as the feelings that they had held inside were slowly released and met with similar disbelief over the message in the email. At some point in time, the talk spilled over into rapid chatter and then into righteous anger as the subject of their meeting appeared.
The man joined the square and was quickly encircled. The young people looked at him with anger and hate and began to yell and shout at him. Finally someone struck up enough courage to approach him and began to speak loudly. The man attempted to defend the position that had been taken earlier in the email, but to no avail.
The group, more of a mob now, wasn’t listening, and even more so, the speaker that had attempted to engage the man wasn’t listening either. She began shouting and swearing at the man, questioning his authority and his decision making process. Others in the crowd signaled that the man wasn’t worth listening to and left.
Now, if you are like many, you might be wondering what horrible crime against humanity that this man had committed. What sort of misdeed was this man accused of? If you had guessed that this man was attempting to defend an email that simply suggested that university authorities were trying to control the situation regarding Halloween costumes and that students use their best judgement, then you would be right.
The Fiscal Times gave the backstory as — “The campus free-speech advocacy group FIRE published an e-mail from Yale’s “Intercultural Affairs Committee,” which pre-emptively scolded students who might choose a costume that might be seen as “cultural appropriation and/or misrepresentation” of minority cultures.” That’s right, now it is no longer permissible to dress up as a cartoon Walt Disney character for Halloween because you might offend someone.
In turn, a Yale lecturer responded by writing — “Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in the capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?” Cutting through the academic chatter, the Financial Times put it another way — “(the lecturer came under fire) simply for making an argument that young men and women who are adept enough to handle the academic rigors of the Ivy League could make their own choice of Halloween costumes and live with the consequences. Essentially, the very same people that were able to make enough correct choices to gain entrance to an elite university are unable to make a wise decision in choosing a costume.
In fact, the same student at the beginning at the story even went one step further when she claimed that the man’s job wasn’t to create an intellectual space, but a “safe space” for students. Now, if you don’t know, a safe space is basically a place where one only hears positive things. Over at Reason, it was put another way — “student demands for “safe spaces” boil down to a demand that universities fulfill the role of Mommy and Daddy. In the old days — this practice, interestingly, ended about 1971, too — colleges stood in loco parentis (in the place of parents) and, exercised extensive and detailed control over students’ social lives, sleeping hours, organizing and speaking. Now, he observes, the students are “desperate to be treated like children again.” So, the student doesn’t want a place to learn, she wanted a place where she could hang-out and feel good.
But the problem isn’t just at Yale. PjMedia recently noted that — “the University of Missouri recently saw student protests oust a president for… well, it’s not entirely clear what he did, but it had something to do with not being sensitive enough to students’ feelings.” But that isn’t the end of the story. The Financial Times noted the dark side to the story when it wrote — “Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communications who ironically had a courtesy appointment in Mizzou’s school of journalism, joined a crowd of students who decided to enforce a “safe space” from the media when a student photojournalist approached. When the photojournalist stood his ground and tried to cover the story, Click called out for help in physically removing him. A video captured Click yelling — “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here?” Then she said — “I need some muscle over here.” That’s right. In a bizarre twist, someone who should know better, a university professor that teaches journalism threated a journalist with physical harm in an attempt to censor or control the conversation.
FT summed up the entire week when it wrote — “The demise of free speech as a cultural value has accelerated on college campuses, because the elites in Academia and the media are uninterested in preserving the values of individual liberty and want to control the culture rather than inform and educate it.”
To sum it up, American university students, the future leaders of tomorrow, are so focused on only hearing happy things and eliminating the rest that they lose sight of reality and the real problems that they are facing today. Student debt is at record levels, the labor market has shrunk, more and more young people continue to live at home because they either can’t afford to leave or simply don’t want to. America continues to find itself in more foreign military adventures and the debt that the United States has continues to grow. But let’s just focus on Halloween costumes and making sure our feelings don’t get hurt, okay?
So, what do you think dear listeners — “Why are US Uni students so worried about their feelings getting hurt?”