Posted: Aug 16, 2015 5:51 pm
by Pulsar
Via Jerry Coyne's blog, I came across the cover story for the September issue of The Atlantic, written by Greg Lukianoff (president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) and Jonathan Haidt (social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at the NYU-Stern School of Business). It's a very extensive article, and absolutely terrifying. What the hell is going on at US colleges???

Full link: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

The Coddling of the American Mind

In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.

Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.

(continues)


They mention several anecdotes concerning "microaggresions":

The term microaggression originated in the 1970s and referred to subtle, often unconscious racist affronts. The definition has expanded in recent years to include anything that can be perceived as discriminatory on virtually any basis. For example, in 2013, a student group at UCLA staged a sit-in during a class taught by Val Rust, an education professor. The group read a letter aloud expressing their concerns about the campus’s hostility toward students of color. Although Rust was not explicitly named, the group quite clearly criticized his teaching as microaggressive. In the course of correcting his students’ grammar and spelling, Rust had noted that a student had wrongly capitalized the first letter of the word indigenous. Lowercasing the capital I was an insult to the student and her ideology, the group claimed.

Even joking about microaggressions can be seen as an aggression, warranting punishment. Last fall, Omar Mahmood, a student at the University of Michigan, wrote a satirical column for a conservative student publication, The Michigan Review, poking fun at what he saw as a campus tendency to perceive microaggressions in just about anything. Mahmood was also employed at the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. The Daily’s editors said that the way Mahmood had “satirically mocked the experiences of fellow Daily contributors and minority communities on campus … created a conflict of interest.” The Daily terminated Mahmood after he described the incident to two Web sites, The College Fix and The Daily Caller. A group of women later vandalized Mahmood’s doorway with eggs, hot dogs, gum, and notes with messages such as “Everyone hates you, you violent prick.” When speech comes to be seen as a form of violence, vindictive protectiveness can justify a hostile, and perhaps even violent, response.

In March, the student government at Ithaca College, in upstate New York, went so far as to propose the creation of an anonymous microaggression-reporting system. Student sponsors envisioned some form of disciplinary action against “oppressors” engaged in belittling speech. One of the sponsors of the program said that while “not … every instance will require trial or some kind of harsh punishment,” she wanted the program to be “record-keeping but with impact.”

Holy shit. How are these students going to behave when they leave the classroom?