Campus totalitarians run amok.
For close to a half-of-a-century, leftist college professors have betrayed their vocation, a calling to educate their students into the intellectual traditions that compose Western civilization.
A liberal arts education is intended to civilize its recipients, to inculcate in them those excellences of head and heart that had always been recognized as the intellectual and moral virtues constitutive of human flourishing.
However, once leftist professors began working around the clock to convince their students that the West, far from being the repository of a rich plethora of wisdom and strength that the liberal arts ideal presupposes, is, rather, the source of the world’s evils, this classical conception of the liberal arts became more difficult to sustain.
The left produced nothing more or less than a paradigm shift. The older conception of the West implicates an ideal personality type, what we may call “the Heroic.” The newer vision of the West implies its own ideal personality type: the Victimized.
And now, to quote Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s mentor of over 20 years, “the chickens are coming home to roost.”
It would be a gross overstatement to lay the blame for the intellectual and moral weaknesses of college students solely at the feet of their professors. Larger cultural currents have been infantilizing the young for quite some time. But this makes college professors that much more culpable, for it is expected that they reverse this course, that they teach their students to challenge both this generation’s prevailing dogmas as well as their own prejudices.
The university is supposed to be a place where boys and girls are made into men and women.
To judge from the contemporary college scene, however, the university has failed miserably to fulfill its mission.
As I write this, the president of the University of Missouri, Tom Wolfe, has resigned amid demands to do so from the school’s football players, their coaches, and faculty. Wolfe, a white man, was tried and convicted by his accusers of being insufficiently sensitive on matters pertaining to race.
Since the beginning of the fall semester, black students alleged that a series of racist events have occurred on campus and gone unaddressed. These incidents include a feces-drawn swastika that appeared in a dormitory. Another incident supposedly involved a vehicle of unknown whites who were guilty of perpetrating “drive-by racism”: they are said to have shouted racial epithets at black students.
One Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student, went so far as to embark upon a hunger strike until Wolfe stepped down.
He has now resumed eating. Butler remarked: “Students who want to go to college and get an education can now have a fighting chance at having a fair education on a campus that is safe and inclusive.”
As for the fearless Tom Wolfe, he laments that his administration “forced” poor “individuals like” Butler “to take immediate action or unusual steps to effect change.”
Butler concurred with Wolfe, adding that had administrators conceded to student demands for “change” years ago, he wouldn’t have had “to put my life on the line for us to get to this place.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
The thing of it is, even before Wolfe resigned, he and the Chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, had mandated on-line “diversity” training for all members of the university community.
Yet Wolfe’s resignation wasn’t the only demand made of the University’s administration.
Students also demanded that before Wolfe resigns, he write “a hand-written apology to ‘Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators” and then hold “a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center” where he would read it aloud. In the letter and at the press conference, Wolfe “must acknowledge his white privilege” and “recognize that systems of oppression exist[.]” As well, Wolfe must confess to “his gross negligence[.]”
Thirdly, subsequent to Wolfe’s removal, an amendment must be added to UM’s charter that would insure that “all future…president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.”
Fourthly, UM must satisfy “the Legion of Black Collegians’ demands…for the betterment of the black community.”
Fifthly, the school must create and enforce a “comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum” in all departments and for all members of the university. This program “must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff and faculty of color.”
Sixthly, within less than two years, UM must increase its share of black faculty and staff by at least ten percent.
The disgruntled students (and those of the staff and faculty who support them) also demand that UM figure out a way to retain “marginalized students;” expand “diversity curriculum and training, promote a more safe and inclusive campus;” and hire more “mental health” specialists and “social justice center” personnel “of color.”
Meanwhile, over at Yale University, students are demanding the resignations of Erika Christakis, Associate Master of Silliman College, and her husband Nicholas, who is the Master of the college. Such is the stridency of the Victims’ demands that a large group of them have actually gone so far as to surround Nicholas in the college’s courtyard.
The unspeakable evil for which the Christakis’ are guilty, you see, is Erika’s reply to the Dean’s memo discouraging Halloween costumes that “disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of our population based on race, nationality, religious belief or gender expression.” Erika wrote that while she agrees “in theory” that people should avoid giving offense, “in practice” she fears “the consequences of an institutional…exercise of implied control over college students.”
She notes that “American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a regressive, or even transgressive, experience[.]” However, “increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”
But it isn’t just administrators who have fueled the immaturity of students. Many of the Christakis’ colleagues among college and university faculties around the country are at least as guilty, and doubtless, significantly more so, of elevating the Victim into a noble type.
The chickens are indeed coming home to roost.