Anyone who is concerned about the United States declining or falling behind the rest of the world ought to take note of the condition of many students of higher education. Considering that liberalism basically preaches perpetual childhood, that grade inflation is prevalent even among top universities and that mushy classes and majors have proliferated to accommodate nearly every intellectual (I use the term loosely) pursuit imaginable – no matter how useless – it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a number of college students lack the toughness to survive outside their cushioned environment.
A couple of recent examples demonstrate this trend. Everyone has heard of the intolerance of students and professors toward commencement speakers who hold points of view that have not met with the approval of our best and brightest. Bill Maher, Condoleezza Rice and George Will are some of the more prominent of this year’s examples of speakers who have been disinvited, have backed out or whose appearance has been visibly protested in the increasing effort by students not to be assaulted with views they have not already rubber-stamped.
For example, students at Michigan State University this past weekend turned their backs on Will as a sign of disrespect – one that accomplished absolutely nothing but satisfying the students’ consciences. When immunization against the pain of opposing points of view carries with it the sweet pleasure of self-congratulation, expect many to stand in line.
By this point, such stories rarely evoke a reaction; they are expected. But they have begun to extend beyond commencement speakers involved in politics. In an interview with Vulture’s Frank Rich, comedian Chris Rock said he has stopped performing for college students, formerly excellent guinea pigs for new material. Rock’s exchange with Rich explaining his reasoning is enlightening and frightening:
Rock: [T]he reason is because they’re way too conservative…. Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.
Rich: When did you start to notice this?
Rock: About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.
If it weren’t bad enough that college students are too busy being offended to enjoy an established comedian’s routine, it is downright demoralizing that students are unable to take finals on schedule because rallies get in the way.
From the Huffington Post: “Student groups at Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and Columbia Law School say demonstrations and rallies over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases have prevented many students from adequately preparing for exams.”
The arrogance of 20 year olds too busy “saving the world” to bother learning about it is a topic for another day. For now, it is enough to note that the students were not responsible enough to handle the rigors of their $40,000 per annum studies.
What’s more, Columbia Law School, for one, agreed with the students, that the protests were the source of too much trauma to allow them to study adequately for the exams.
In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.
Students admitted to such prestigious institutions should be held to a higher standard, and should be able to perform even under taxing circumstances. As well, students should be expected to face, consider and debate difficult viewpoints, including – perhaps especially – those with which they disagree.
Like an astronaut who cannot stay in space too long because his muscles will atrophy and his bones weaken, the students’ minds will wither if they are not required to stand them up intellectually. Do they really wish to be inadequately prepared for the future in America it is assumed they will lead?