Special snowflakes

Stephen W. Browne

I suppose we are all aware of the ferment on various college campuses these days. Students demanding 'safe spaces' when life hits them too hard and they need a place to curl up in the fetal position and sob their hearts out at the manifest injustice of the world.

A few weeks ago Brown University issued the final version of its diversity and inclusion action plan.

The Brown Daily Herald noted the plan could not have been completed but for the exhaustive efforts of student activists, and how they've suffered for their work on behalf of the downtrodden and oppressed of the Ivy League.

'My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight. I'm on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills right now. (Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors called me.

I had deans calling me to make sure I was okay,' said one anonymous student.

As part of his activism, according to the Herald, 'he struggled to balance his classes, job and social life with the activism to which he feels so dedicated. Stressors and triggers flooded his life constantly.'

Worse, according to some students unsympathetic professors are not accepting activism as an excuse for unfinished classwork.

Worse still, activism on behalf of causes such as BDS (Boycott Divest Sanction) against Israel, or sexual assault awareness, students find themselves 'triggered' by unpleasant memories, or disagreement with their cherished opinion.

The Herald mentions that college deans are present at some of these demonstrations not only to monitor, but to offer support.

Because students, 'might be impacted, something might be triggered or they might suddenly remember more at that event they were protesting,' according to Ashley Ferranti, assistant dean of student support services.

The idea that a dean's time might be better spent with say, academics or administration is just too crass evidently.

Suggesting that university is supposed to give you the tools to face the problems of the world and come up with workable responses to them is soooo last century. Students are supposed to start changing the world right now while they still know everything.

OK, it's easy to make fun of these people. It's easy to forget that campus activism is not new. I can remember demonstrations at my Midwest alma mater, and I might even recall who put the toothpicks and glue into the locks of the administration building door. (They had them opened on time anyway.)

History buffs might remember the Oxford University town and gown riots used to involve cudgels and even swords way back when.

But there's a few things about college these days that bodes ill for the future.

One is that there's a vicious side of this. In my day college activists would take over buildings, perhaps vandalize them. You could do tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage simply by dumping all the card drawers of the library card catalog. (Remember them?)

That's bad for sure. But what we see now are things like false rape accusations resulting in summary suspensions and expulsions without anything resembling due process.

And when they are disproved, they are justified as 'raising awareness.'

There's a sinister 'ends justify the means' aspect of this that's worrying. Particularly when you wonder how many of these activists are going to become lawyers, judges, government administrators, or academics themselves.

On the other hand, given the number of students graduating with degrees ending in "Studies, perhaps we'll have a lot of formerly affluent unemployable running around " or running for office.

Because what really strikes one about these activists is what a bunch of sissies they are! Back in the day we were rowdy jerks, but we weren't wimps.

The Ivy League schools were once openly the academies for a governing class. No they weren't 'inclusive' but you could fight your way into them and fight to stay in them. Because back then everyone knew that a governing class had to be tough and smart to stay on top.

Nowadays you have to be 'sensitive,' and 'check your privilege.'

Get ready, they're going to be running things very soon.