The Corner


Emotional Coddling Doesn’t Help College Students — It Hurts Them

Following Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, many colleges and universities across the nation immediately offered “safe spaces” and “counseling” to help grieving students get through the supposed trauma of a political defeat.

For example, as we read in this piece by J. Christian Adams, George Mason University, offered a “healing space” for students on campus yesterday. GMU’s vice president for University Life Rose Pascarell emailed students to tell them that those feeling despair and fear could avail themselves of the soothing folks at the school’s Counseling and Psychological Services office.

Of course, GMU was not alone in this. Here is a collection of more emails to students who might be unable to cope with Trump’s victory.

I don’t have any information on the numbers of students who found such succor necessary, but the very fact that university administrators think it might be appropriate to suggest it is revealing. This goes beyond mere virtue signaling by  administrators who never stop displaying their “progressive” beliefs. It’s an impediment to college students who need to grow up much more than they need to muddle through enough classes to earn a degree.

So argues North Dakota State University psychology professor Clay Routledge , who writes about the unhealthy environment that has developed on many campuses in his Pope Center essay, “Colleges are Promoting Psychological Frailty and We Should All be Concerned.”

Routledge strongly disapproves of the tendency to treat every imaginable slight or irritation to students (at least, those on the left) as an occasion for intervention by school officials. “Unless students are suffering from a severe mental illness,” he writes, “the type of pathology that would likely keep them from being able to attend and succeed in college to begin with, they should be perfectly capable of remaining psychologically healthy in the face of offensive Halloween costumes, distasteful jokes, and sensitive course material.”

Not to mention political defeats.

Routledge argues that when schools treat students like fragile little glass figurines, “they may actually cause the problems they are designed to solve because they suggest to students who wouldn’t otherwise feel like victims that they are, in fact, victims.”

I think Routledge is right on target and would add only that the main reason why we find so many colleges and universities going in this silly direction is that they have hired a lot of needless administrators who have to find ways of looking busy and important. The notion that students must be protected from everything from microaggressions and “cultural appropriation” to the election of Donald Trump is a godsend to them.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.