Well, it’s only 5.5 months into 2016, but along with the Political Silly Season has come the College Entitlement Season. The Daily Beast has given a list of the craziest demands of college students over the last full year (and wait—we have over six months to come in this one!). Here are a few; demands in quotes come from the Daily Beast piece:
- Deep six the two-part “Major English Poets” course required for English majors at Yale, which includes Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, and Eliot. Students have objected (note the last three sentences of their threatening petition):
“It is unacceptable that a Yale student considering studying English literature might read only white male authors. A year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity. The Major English Poets sequences creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of color.
. . . It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices. We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.”
But note that English majors at Yale must take 14 courses in total, and the options include these:
For more on this, do read Katy Waldman’s nice essay in Slate, “The canon is sexist, racist, colonialist, and totally gross. Yes, you have to read it anyway.”
“At the University of Arizona, the Marginalized Students (PDF)—a coalition of self-described oppressed students, including the Latino student association, black student association, Asian student association, LGBT student association, Native American student association, and women’s center—want safe spaces for each unique identity group. The black students, for instance, want a residence hall to themselves.
They are hardly alone. Student-activists at New York University want one floor of a campus building turned over to black students, and another floor given to LGBT students.”
This seems to me to foster separation and segregation, not interaction and mutual understanding. The best way to achieve comity among groups is, I think, getting to know each other. How can you do that if you divide off into homogenous groups?
- As I wrote about last November, the University of Ottawa suspended a yoga class for disabled students as the practice, after the class was reported by a student, was decided to be a form of cultural appropriation.
- “. . . students at Western Washington University want the administration to create a 15-person student committee to monitor “racist, anti-black, transphobic, cissexist, misogynistic, ableist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and otherwise oppressive behavior on campus.” No one would be safe: Even tenured faculty members accused of micro-aggressing someone would be subject to formal investigation. As an example of what qualifies as a microaggression in the eyes of these students, they spelled the word “history” with an “x”—as in “hxstory”—because the actual word is too patriarchal (“his” + “story”).”
“At Johns Hopkins University, administrators do not count first-semester freshmen’s grades. These students received grades, but they aren’t included on their transcript. The university is phasing out this practice, however, given concerns that it discourages new students from studying as hard as they should.
Student activists are utterly opposed to the new policy. One student, Erica Taicz, accused the administration of worsening her anxiety:
‘I’m paying to have a support network, academically and mentally. I can’t be expected to do well in class if I’m depressed and have anxiety. If the school is worsening my anxiety, that’s their problem and they need to be held accountable for that.’
Meanwhile, more than 1,300 Oberlin students signed a petition calling on the college to make “C” the lowest possible grade such that no student would be deemed “below average.” Other students think special accommodations should be made for people who are too depressed, anxious, or triggered to take final exams. One student told The New Yorker that he expected his professors to proactively invite him to office hours to have a conversation about the course material in lieu of a midterm.”
This is the ultimate Lake Wobegon Demand: a college where no student is “below average.” To be sure, I’ve made allowance for students who have valid medical excuses for exams, like giving them extra time, and I have given oral final exams to students who had a strong reason to be absent from campus during exams. But these demands are, in general, symptoms of entitlement, of students demanding that their “specialness” be recognized, and they don’t have to undergo the difficult work that often comes with learning.
As lagniappe, here’s some footage of the students being EXTREMELY BOTHERED when Milo Yiannopoulos recently spoke at DePaul University here in Chicago. The outside protests are, of course, legal counterspeech, but students later came up on stage, blew whistles, shouted, and forced him to terminate his talk. To see that, go to this video.