Then there’s the race hysteria. Just last week, students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota canceled a “Hump Day” celebration featuring a camel because someone thought the camel signified racism against Muslims. (Yes, Muslims aren’t a race, but that doesn’t matter, apparently.) We make fun of Victorians for substituting the term “limbs” for the too-racy word “legs,” and for supposedly covering table legs with cloth, but our own era is prone to similar over-delicacy, and campuses — supposedly centers of critical thought — seem to be the worst offenders.
Dartmouth cancelled a charitable fund-raising “fiesta” because one student complained that the word “fiesta” was racist. And going beyond race, commencement speakers, ranging from Condi Rice at Rutgers to Christine LaGarde at Smith, have been turned away by rabid student protests, mocked here by Yale Law’s Stephen Carter.
From the economics to the politics, colleges and universities are looking less like serious places to improve one’s mind and one’s prospects, and more like expensive islands of frivolity and, sometimes, viciousness. And that is likely to have consequences.