Phi Beta Cons

A Yale Professor Reflects

In an attempt at mending Yale’s frayed campus, president Peter Salovey and Dean Jonathan Holloway recently sent an email to the Yale community. Naturally, it bowed down before the great icon of progressivism, affirming “the importance we put on our community’s diversity, and the need to increase it, support it, and respect it.” (Sheer nonsense, say I.) The missive also said what of course had to be said about the unacceptability of “threats, coercion, and overtly disrespectful acts.” (But what will happen to protesters the next time they employ such tactics?)

Emeritus professor of law Peter Schuck was among the recipients of that email and offers his thoughts on “What the President of Yale Should Have Said” in this Minding the Campus essay.

Schuck isn’t happy with the response from on high, especially its omissions. He points out how absurd is the claim that racism lingers over Yale and other American universities writing “The fact that students complain of rampant racism on campus does not mean that it is true. Yale — and virtually every other old institution — countenanced racism and even practiced it, but that period is long gone.” Too bad that a university president can’t speak such truth to mobs of students hyped up on their own imagined righteousness.

Schuck also wishes his university leaders had done more to uphold the ideals of learning and civil discourse. “A great university,” he writes, “must defend itself for what it is and should be — a sanctuary for study and engagement — not a comfortable and comforting cocoon. Students who come with a hypersensitive aversion to conflict and to intellectual diversity (as distinct from the easy, faux diversity of skin color and surname) are in the wrong place.”

Precisely. But why are there so many of these SJW types at Yale, spoiling for a chance to shout about their manufactured grievances? I would say that admissions preferences has much to do with it; maybe everything to do with it. We keep hearing that universities must employ preferences so that there will be a “critical mass” of “underrepresented” students; what that appears to ensure is only that there will be a enough students with chips on their shoulders so that we get ugly protests over the tiniest of issues or even complete hoaxes.

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

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