So, Donald Trump won the presidential election, and colleges and universities around the country are predictably canceling classes and exams because students are predictably too devastated to be able to do their schoolwork.
It’s everywhere. A professor at University of Michigan postponed an exam after too many students complained about their “very serious” stress. Columbia University postponed midterms, a Yale University professor made an exam optional, a University of Iowa professor canceled classes and a University of Connecticut professor excused class absences — all because their students just absolutely could not function knowing that they’d have to live in a country where their president would not be the president that they wanted. And it’s not even just the students — a University of Rochester professor canceled all of his meetings with students the day after the election because he decided he just could not bear to talk about it with them.
Reading all of these stories, I really have to wonder: Do any of these people realize that this kind of behavior is exactly why Donald Trump won? The initial appeal of Donald Trump was that he served as a long-awaited contrast to the infantilization and absurd demands for political correctness and “safe spaces” sweeping our society, and the way these people are responding is only reminding Trump voters why they did what they did.
First of all, let me say that I’m far from surprised that these kids are having mental breakdowns over this. Throughout the campaign, the mere sight of “Trump 2016” written in chalk was enough for students to demand a safe space. A professor at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington erased Trump chalkings on campus so students wouldn’t have to see them. A Bias Response Team at Skidmore College determined that writing “Make America Great Again” on dry-erase boards amounted to performing “racialized, targeted attacks.” Realizing that you are going to have to deal with Donald Trump being the president must be a hell of a lot to handle after you’ve been conditioned to believe you shouldn’t even have to deal with seeing his name or campaign slogan, so it makes a lot of sense that the reactions have been so extreme.
What’s more, I understand that for many people, the news that Donald Trump will be our next president is more than just an election result. People are concerned about their futures; people are concerned about their families. I understand all of this. But the thing is, there are children all across the country who go to school while having concerns about how things are going at home. First graders do it. Yes, believe it or not, there are five-year-olds across the country who leave their broken homes full of serious problems to go to school every single day, and yet we don’t see any of them demanding a note from their teachers saying “I know life is tough for you so don’t worry about learning to add and read,” and I would encourage any one of these five-year-olds to tell those spoiled Ivy League babies to shut up and get it together.
We have become a society where our kindergartners are more capable than the adults who are studying at Yale, an institution that is supposedly reserved for our best and brightest. Newsflash, kids: “There is something in my life that is bothering me” is not automatically followed by “Therefore I do not have to attend to any of my responsibilities,” and your entitled expectation that it is has contributed far more to Donald Trump’s rise than anyone’s racist uncle.
#related#Now, keep in mind that I say all of this as someone who is not a Donald Trump supporter, and someone who, as a woman, is taking it personally as well. But guess what? I went to work. I went to work during the weeks my mom was dying from a terminal illness, a time when there was definitely what I’d call some “very serious” stress in my life. Come to think of it, I’m actually at work now too, not to brag! The fact is, this has absolutely nothing to do with politics or partisanship or sexism or racism or anything along those lines but rather being able to understand what it means to be an adult. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to cry, and it’s even okay to let your teachers know that you are struggling and to try to work something out if necessary. I’ve had days where I’ve tried to work and found it impossible due to personal sources of stress, and I think that everyone has. On far too many college campuses, however, this kind of response to anything that even remotely resembles adversity has become the rule rather than the exception. Sooner or later, these people will have to realize that no one owes it to you to care, and that expecting society to revolve around your own personal feelings means you have an even bigger ego than the Donald himself.