Robby Soave at Reason brings us another depressing tale of students at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities who clearly have been herded into a climate where nobody should ever be made to feel uncomfortable or have their own world views challenged. This time it’s at Yale, where students want some administrators fired because they didn’t speak out strongly enough about potentially off-putting Halloween costumes and a frat party.
Students are demanding that Yale University fire two administrators who failed to speak out against offensive Halloween costumes. This is just one of the grievances of activist students—many of them people of color—who claim Yale is not a safe space for them.
On Thursday, the students surrounded Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway—a black man—in an outdoor space and chided him for failing to take action against a fraternity that had allegedly prevented black women from attending its party.
So the students are upset about an email in which the wife of Nicholas Christakis, master of Silliman College, dared to opine that it was inappropriate for the college to tell students how to dress. Oh… the horror. I’ve yet to see a photo of anyone in a costume that involved blackface (one of their concerns, apparently) or wearing a “feathered headdress” which might offend Native Americans. There were also complaints about a party at one frat house which allegedly turned away African-American girls, though that charge is apparently still in dispute according to The Daily Beast.
At least the administration took a quick stand in defense of free speech and the open exchange of ideas. Naw… I’m just kidding. They apologized immediately. (Washington Post)
In a closed-door meeting Thursday night, Yale University’s president apologized to a large group of minority students for the school’s failure to make them feel safe on campus.
“We failed you,” Peter Salovey, a psychologist, told more than 40 students gathered in the ornate room where the Yale Corporation meets, on the top floor of the president’s office.
“I think we have to be a better university. I think we have to do a better job,” he said, according to several students in the room who were taking notes.
So it’s no longer good enough to admonish the actual practitioners of controversial speech (assuming there’s anything controversial actually taking place.) Now the faculty needs to go on the chopping block if they don’t proactively go out and squelch any offensive thoughts. This is the price we’re paying for generations of liberal thinkers encouraging the coddling of students and stamping out any competing ideas. One of the students who was screaming vulgarities at Christakis and asking “who the **** hired you” informed him that Yale was not a place to create an intellectual space. It’s supposed to be a home.
As Soave notes in the Reason piece, this illustrates the fundamental failure of our colleges to prepare students for success in the real world.
It is not about creating an intellectual space, the students claim; it’s about creating safe spaces. This is as clear an articulation of students’ desires as they come, and it summarizes everything that’s wrong with the modern college campus.
Students should of course feel free to challenge university administrators — this is the essence of free speech. Students have every right to publicize their concerns and work to make Yale a more welcoming place for marginalized people (and administrators should listen). But a great many students, it seems, don’t actually desire a campus climate where such matters are up for debate. By their own admission, they want anyone who disagrees with them branded a threat to their safety and removed from their lives.
We’re well past the point where this should come as any sort of surprise. Remember that Yale was ground zero of the recent survey commissioned by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program there where more than half of the students wanted “speech codes” and over 60% wanted mandated trigger warnings. Their conclusion was that free speech is essentially an outdated idea and ranked it as far less important than sheltering students from unpopular opinions.
It’s also the same campus where DeRay Mckesson is a guest lecturer teaching Yale students a course based in part on “In Defense of Looting.” That’s the sort of speech which isn’t seen as threatening, but instead as part of the normal ebb and flow of debate over civil disobedience. But having a conservative speak on campus or even being exposed to a Halloween costume is the sort of thing which can cripple a young mind for life.
As usual, I’ll close this out by including a reminder to any parents sending their precious little snowflakes off to study at Yale: the per year tuition there is currently $44,901. Money well spent indeed, guys.