Phi Beta Cons

“We’re Just Trying to Do Right by Our Students”

That line sums up a weak op-ed by two college presidents who try to defend the mania for protecting students against “hurtful” words, images, and ideas. In the LA Times, Barry Glassner and Morton Shapiro tried to justify the crusade against microaggressions and the use of “trigger warnings” to allow sensitive students to avoid potentially harmful readings. I found their arguments lame and explain why in this Minding the Campus piece.

The utopian project of spinning a protective cocoon around students (or at least some of them; I have yet to see any college worrying that, oh, students from military families might need to be protected from hearing about guns and warfare) is only going to keep students from growing up and dealing with a world full of unpleasantries, while at the same time empowering those who want to stifle speech they don’t agree with.

Glassner and Shapiro lament that “Today’s college students wouldn’t be struggling to deal with sexual assault and racism from their childhoods and on our campuses had their parents and grandparents made the world as harmonious as we imagined we would.” Nonsense. The world really is more harmonious than ever (although the efforts of liberal ‘boomers’ had little to do with it). The trouble is that we now exalt the complaints of a few about their occasionally real but mostly imaginary dissatisfactions about the world.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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