Politics & Policy

16 Most Ridiculously PC Moments on College Campuses in 2016

(Igor Mojzes/Dreamstime)
A year of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and microaggresions

Everyone always talks about “political correctness on college campuses” these days, but is it really that bad? Yes. Yes, it is. And if you don’t believe me, here, in no particular order, are the 16 most ridiculously PC moments on college campuses this year: 

1. A college had to provide counseling and a “safe space” because some students were so upset that a couple of their classmates were drinking tequila and wearing sombreros at the same time. 

Some students at Bowdoin College threw a tequila-themed birthday party where some attendees reportedly wore sombreros. It was explicitly not a “fiesta” or “Mexican” themed party — but apparently, people drinking tequila and wearing sombreros at the same time is in itself an offense so egregious that it warrants administrative action. Note: It is not clear if the offended students were actually at the party, or if they had just heard about it and could not handle knowing that their classmates had been been drinking a kind of booze with a kind of hat on.

2. Students created a “healing space” to recover from a speech that they didn’t even attend. 

Students at the University of California–Los Angeles created a “healing space” to recover from the pain of having Ben Shapiro speak on their campus — even though the speech had happened three months ago and they did not even attend it. 

3. An academic article claimed that ski slopes are “sexist.”

An assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland wrote a real, actual academic article about how ski slopes are “masculinized spaces.” Yes, ski slopes, as in the hills with snow on them. 

4. The “War on Harambe” 

More than one college banned references to the Late Great Harambe in 2016. Resident assistants at the University of Massachusetts warned students that “any negative remarks regarding ‘Harambe’” were “direct attack[s] to our campus’s African American community” and that certain Harambe jokes were “sexual assault incidences.” Clemson University banned “any reference to Harambe” from dorm spaces over concerns of “racism” and “rape culture.” A poster at Florida State University warned students that Harambe Halloween costumes were “cultural appropriation.” Note: Harambe is not a culture; he was a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. 

5. The best and the brightest: A Harvard kid declared benches to be a racial issue. 

No, “benches” is not a code word here. I am literally talking about actual benches, as in the things people sit on in parks. 

6. Privilege-checking became problematic. 

You know how social-justice warriors are always telling you to “check your privilege” to see how problematic you are? Well, according to an op-ed by a student at the University of California–Berkeley, privilege-checking is also problematic, because it just makes privileged people feel lucky. (What the hell we are supposed to do to please these people is not clear.)

7. Students at a university considered removing a Martin Luther King Jr. quote from a wall because it wasn’t inclusive enough. 

A group of student leaders at the University of Oregon debated removing the famous “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream . . .” quote from a wall in its student center because it talks only about racial discrimination and not discrimination based on things like gender identity . . . and that’s just not inclusive enough. 

8. A professor worried that her school’s hawk mascot was so scary-looking that it might be making students incredibly emotionally distressed.

Resmiye Oral, a professor at the University of Iowa, wrote an e-mail to the school’s athletic department explaining that she was concerned that the school’s mascot bird, a hawk named “Herky,” may have been traumatizing students and contributing to a culture of violence, depression, and suicide because he never appeared with a smiley facial expression. 

9. Materials distributed by the University of Missouri declared that it is a microaggression to call a disabled person “inspiring.” 

Compliments are mean

10. A student was hit with a “safe space” complaint for raising her hand. 

A student at Edinburgh University in Scotland said she was hit with a “safe space” complaint for raising her hand to disagree during a student-council meeting. The school’s “Safe Space Policy” strictly forbade “hand gestures which denote disagreement” because apparently they are just too scary for adult students to handle.  

11. Campus crime alerts have trigger warnings now. 

The University of Iowa put a trigger warning on a campus crime alert about a Peeping Tom on the loose, because apparently maintaining a metaphorical safe space is more important than making sure students know about a threat to their actual safety. 

12. A football coach at Cornell University apologized for posting a photo of some of his players wearing sombreros. 

A member of the school’s student assembly called the picture of two fully clothed people wearing fun hats an “extremely offensive image.” 

13. A school canceled a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” because a white lady wrote it. 

The cancellation happened at Southwestern University in Texas. American University canceled their performance of the show, too, but for a different reason: It was not inclusive enough of women without vaginas. 

14. A college outdoors club canceled an event over concerns that it was not inclusive enough to people who do not like to go outdoors. 

An outdoors club at the Claremont Colleges canceled its annual bikini hike because it implied “bro-iness” (as if that’s a bad thing!) and just wasn’t for everyone. Apparently, those kids don’t realize that the entire purpose of clubs is to allow members to participate in interest-specific activities that are not for everyone. 


15. A professor was accused of sexual harassment for saying that effort would count for 10 percent of the grade in his class. 

A professor at Brooklyn College of City University of New York had to change his syllabus because a part of it that said effort was 10 percent of the grade was deemed “sexual harassment.”  What kind of sick person would think he meant “effort performing sexual favors?” 

16. Oxford told its law students that they did not have to learn about rape or violence law if they found it too “triggering.” 

It is not clear whether or not these students are aware that they would not be allowed to leave a courtroom during a trial if they found it too “triggering.” 


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