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Jerry Shenk


Higher Ed Hysterics

by Jerry Shenk
 

Unintended comedy on American campuses is amplified by how earnestly, authoritatively and hysterically (in every sense of the word) emotionally-adolescent undergraduates express trivialities while attempting to suppress or ban things most adults think of as "a classical education," "harmless fun" or "tasty food."

Campus activists are the academy's equivalent of insecure high school bullies who lash out when they suspect the bright kids are making fun of them. Indeed, people are laughing at them -- with good reason.

At Yale (annual costs $63,970), students declared: "We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention." That implied threat was sent to Yale's English Department complaining that a required two-semester seminar on Major English Poets isn't politically correct. PC-beancounters whined that "a year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity."

Other Yale courses feature female, non-white and gay writers, nonetheless, protesting English majors want to exorcize the English language's foundational writers, including Chaucer, Donne and Shakespeare. It's like music majors outlawing Do, Re and the key of C.

Kids, it's simple: Don't attend Yale, or don't major in English.
Similar demands have overwhelmed campus cafeterias where serving ethnic food is considered a "microaggression." At Oberlin College (annual costs $64,266), Asian students complained that the General Tso's chicken wasn't "authentic" even though the dish was created in America to familiarize Americans with Asian-style food.

Protesting "cultural appropriation," some campus activists don't want white people practicing yoga or drinking tequila and wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo. Others think Hindu chanting should be reserved for Hindus — a wonderful irony, because 1960-70s student protesters who eventually infiltrated higher education and today comprise significant numbers of active and emeritus faculty, enthusiastically "appropriated" the Kamasutra, Nehru jackets, hookahs and sitars. Om…

After months spent on various protests, student activists at Brown University (annual costs $62,046) complained of emotional stress and poor grades, chastising the university for insisting that they complete their coursework. Apparently, it's oppressive to expect undergraduates to do schoolwork at school.

In March, University of Pittsburgh (in-state costs $33,034, out-of-state $44,250) students declared themselves so "in danger" and "traumatized" by an on-campus speech by a (gasp!) conservative gay man that they demanded to know why Pitt didn't offer real-time therapy for those who felt "invalidated" by a presentation no one was required to attend.

Students at American University (annual costs $59,888) didn't question a professor who said that capitalism "dehumanizes people of color," overlooking how many of the world's oppressed brown and black people are escaping to capitalist countries — including ours.

Families are paying tremendous sums of money for higher ed; student loans exceed $1.2 trillion; but many institutions accommodate coddled kids who expect education to be effortless, stress-free and re-affirming in ways adult life seldom is.

Universities have become expensive day care centers where childish hysteria is commonplace. Granted, it's amusing, but, higher education fails without acclimating graduates to real-world discomfort.


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