Since Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton on November 8, college campuses across the nation expanded their “safe spaces” for students and faculty whose world had been turned upside down by this historic election.
In at least three respects, the Great Meltdown of 2016 is a truly tragic commentary on the state of higher education today:
First, it reveals the dominance of a single left-leaning ideology at an institution that is supposed to be a free marketplace of ideas. It goes without saying, after all, that no safe spaces would’ve been created or would have needed to have been created had the election gone the other way.
Second, the hyper-emotionality accentuates the intellectual flaccidness that prevails at the one place that is supposed to exist for the sake of instilling into the next generation intellectual virtue, men and women with strength and toughness of mind.
Third, the Great Meltdown betrays the stunning arrogance on the part of just those people—professors—whose calling to a life in education requires the cultivation of humility. Given that students were just as unprepared as were their teachers for even the possibility that their candidate could lose proves that neither have they been acquiring the virtue of humility while in college.
The College Fix, a campus watchdog publication run by students, is a national treasure. Here are some of the happenings in the academic world from last week that it reports:
At Converse College, an all-female institution, students organized “silent protests,” walked the campus in tears, and posted pictures of themselves crying on Snapchat. At least one professor held off on giving a midterm exam, and another told her students that the day after Election Day was the worst day in American history second only to September 11, 2001.
The President of the college, Krista Newkirk, issued an email to the campus community in which she expressed her sadness that “once again our young girls and women have failed to see the shattering of that glass ceiling and the first female president of the United States” (How much would you be willing to bet that no such email was sent when Barack Obama prevented Hillary Clinton her chance of shattering that glass ceiling in 2008?)
A student who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals told The College Fix that she was ejected from a class for expressing her disgust at the comparison that some of her peers and her instructor were drawing between 9/11 and November 9.
Over in “the quad” at Cornell University, students held a “Cry In” the day after Election Day. “I’m quite terrified, honestly,” remarked one student. Trump’s win reflects people’s “willing[ness] to put people down based on their identity just so that they would feel vindicated that they would be getting rid of ‘Crooked Hillary.’”
The “Cry In” consisted of about 20 students who sat in a circle on the ground writing on the sidewalk with crayons and chalk. Some professors stood around them. One observer noted that it looked and felt something like a funeral.
An older woman who, according to the reporter for The College Fix, appeared to have been a professor said that “the results are heartbreaking and such a slap in the face to so many of the populations that make up America.”
What is most difficult for this writer to report upon, though, are the incidences of hate that are being visited upon Trump supporting students at colleges around the country. At Mount Holyoke College, for instance, Kassy Dillon, the president of the College Republicans, was badgered as she drove around campus. People were “coming up to my car,” she explained, “to yell ‘f*ck you for supporting Trump.”
She adds: “It’s more dangerous now than ever to be a conservative on a college campus.”
Ana Martinez, a student at California State University Los Angeles, is a member of the Young Americans for Freedom. When it was becoming clear that Trump was going to be victorious, haters bombarded her on social media with messages like: “Is it fun being racist now?” “When Trump is raping you, are you still going to want him for president?” “He is going to deport your… ass right back to El Salvador.”
(So that other embattled student Trump supporters may take heart, it is worth noting what Ms. Martinez, an immigrant, herself said about the bile being spewed at her: “Coming from an oppressive government even more corrupt than the U.S., to see that the American people chose the people and freedom and beat the biased media, career politicians and the corrupt establish[ment] makes me even more proud to be an American.”
She concluded: “What a time to be alive.”)
At the University of Tennessee, a female student proceeded to punch on a Trump student. Another student kicked a service dog whose owner had a Trump pin on her bag.
At Emory University, a group of angry students surrounded the College Republicans at their regularly scheduled tabling event and knocked a cell phone out of someone’s hand.
There’s also a racial dimension to the reaction to Trump’s victory that is critical. Sometimes, it is made all too explicit. It was made explicit at North Carolina Chapel Hill. One hundred students walked out of class to “protest” the election results. A black student said that he skipped his classes on November 9 because he “could not be in really white spaces.”
Chalk writings on the ground read: “A vote 4 Trump was a vote 4 death,” “fuck str8 white privilege,” “whie [sic] supremacy lives,” “Donald Trump is a racist,” and “impeach Trump.”
One student called for destruction—“it literally all has to go, it has to burn, it has to crash, it has to die.” Another said that “this” is “white America’s problem.” White America “created this problem. You embraced it at Thanksgiving and Christmas and now we’re—people like me, people of color, women—if you are anything that’s not a white man you are feeling the pain because of this decision now.”
The Black Student Movement planned to have a “people of color only lunch” and the college established a “healing space” for saddened students.
While this essay focuses on students’ and professors’ reactions to Trump’s routing of Clinton, parents and taxpayers should not be misled into thinking recent events on college campuses are unique or novel. They are anything but that. Rather, the hyper-emotionality, anti-intellectualism, abrasiveness, divisive racial rhetoric, and, yes, even violence that has occurred far too frequently courtesy of the “progressive” left have long preceded Trump.