Monday, November 30, 2015

Are student radicals losing mental health?

This is old news now in America but wasn't widely reported on here in Australia. Two events, one at Yale and the other at the University of Missouri, show a disturbing trend amongst radical activists.

Let's start with the prestigious Yale University. The event there began when an email was sent to students asking them to show sensitivity when selecting Halloween costumes. The wife of a college master sent an email of her own lamenting the fact that students were no longer being encouraged to be transgressive but instead were scared to offend. Her husband supported her on more libertarian, free speech grounds, that rather than college authorities ban anything, students themselves should show disapproval of what they found offensive.

Jancey Paz, a student at the college, wrote a letter of complaint about the master: his ten weeks as a leader of the college, Master Christakis has not fostered this sense of community. He seems to lack the ability, quite frankly, to put aside his opinions long enough to listen to the very real hurt that the community feels. He doesn’t get it. And I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.

My dad is a really stubborn man. We debate all the time, and I understand the value of hearing differing opinions. But there have been times when I have come to my father crying, when I was emotionally upset, and he heard me regardless of whether or not he agreed with me. He taught me that there is a time for debate, and there is a time for just hearing and acknowledging someone’s pain.

I have had to watch my friends defend their right to this institution. This email and the subsequent reaction to it have interrupted their lives. I have friends who are not going to class, who are not doing their homework, who are losing sleep, who are skipping meals, and who are having breakdowns. I feel drained. And through it all, Christakis has shown that he does not consider us a priority.

Remember, this is Yale. It is supposed to be a place where the intellectual elite gather. Instead, Jancey Paz portrays it as a place where emotionally fragile young people commune to have their feelings soothed.

Or perhaps we are witnessing a new strategy by student radicals. One in which the matter at hand never even gets to the point of political debate because this would be too upsetting - the only acceptable role for those listening to the student left is one of unqualified support and sympathy.

And if this support isn't fulsome enough? Then the supposedly "fragile" communities will punish you fiercely, as Tim Wolfe, who was until recently President of the University of Missouri, found out.

The student left at Missouri felt that he hadn't created spaces of healing after a police shooting in Ferguson:
“In the following months, our students were left stranded, forced to face an increase in tension and inequality with no systemic support...The academic careers of our students are suffering. The mental health of our campus is under constant attack. Our students are being ignored. We have asked the University to create spaces of healing and it failed to do so.”

He apologised but the left still made two demands. First, that he issue another public apology at a press conference acknowledging his "white male privilege". The second that he be fired. He was fired.

For the moment, the strategy has worked.


  1. One couldn't hold out much hope for the future of the United States if this is the typical calibre of student now being produced by her most prestigious seats of learning. If their response is so pathetic to such insignificantly trivial events they are going to be no use to anyone in the real world.

  2. I assume everyone heard about those issues Germaine Greer was having at universities?
    The Women's officer's charges of her being transphobic took the cake, imo.

  3. Further intellectual life at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire via David Thompson. (Language Warning)

  4. One particularly disturbing aspect of this trend in America is the dearth of leadership. Put another way, the abhorrent moral cowardice of administrators and academic and political leaders enables this behaviour. I fear this is a trend that will spread down under (if not already here). All that's needed is the right group and colour of cry-bully agitators and people in authority will fold like cards.

    1. Most academic administrators have no problem with the radicals, ever since Derek Bok at Harvard said that "diversity" was to be the main cause of academia. They only get scared when donations are threatened. Criticism from conservatives only increases their "siege mentality".

      At private institutions like the Ivy League, not much can be done from outsiders. At public institutions like Missouri, the board which appoints administrators, is held accountable to the legislature and Governor. But for the legislature to ask for conservatism to receive respect, triggers cries of "academic freedom" from liberals.

  5. These young people are not emotionally fragile. They are asserting their power. They are crybullies. When they talk about their pain they are lying. They intend to inflict pain on others - on anyone they perceive as insufficiently zealous in advancing their agenda.

    1. Yes, the more I read about these events, the more that seems to be true.

  6. Mr. Richardson

    I think back to the 1980's and the helicopter parents. Parents who couldn't leave their children along, who filled what should have been their spare time with activities. Parents who insisted that everything had to be made safe. Where playgrounds had be closed because they were deemed too dangerous, where children cannot play in primary schools whichout long sleeves and pants and a wide brimmed hat because when they are 60 they might get skin cancer.

    Are we seeing the effects of this?

    Is a quarter of a century of you deserve to be safe, no one can upset you, consequences don't apply to you, finally coming home to roost?

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

    1. Maybe - it might certainly contribute to a lack of young adult resilience. Same with the modern education system in which you can't fail no matter how little you do.

      However, the activists are emphasising that they have something like PTSD. For instance, course materials have to have "trigger warnings" and the like. There is something going on that I don't fully understand.

      I wonder if it might have to do with the following. Everyone has negative experiences in life. In Australia in, say, the 1970s you would have been told that it is up to you as an individual to overcome these negative life experiences through personal strength and character - that you had to ride life's bumps. White males are still told that the cause and the cure lies within themselves. But females and other races are told that the problem and the cure does not lie within themselves since the problem is that white males hold all the privilege and use the privilege to oppress everyone else. They are told, relentlessly, that they are victims of the way society is organised and that this explains their difficulties in life. Therefore, there is not much they can do, except to passively resent or to express activist anger. They are caught/trapped within a system which picks them out to be victims and which denies them what they need to have positive life experiences whilst whites/males get to be happy/content just by being whites/males.

      One reason I think there might be something in the above is that there are some young Asian female teachers now at my school who seem to have every possible advantage and who are treated as well as you could expect; but there are times when even they express a kind of depressed racial resentment - they still see themselves tremblingly and in an emotionally fragile way as downcast victims even though they are somewhere in the top third of society.

    2. This has much truth to it. The boy who started his own hunger strike over a poop-swastika belongs to an incredibly wealthy family. He is more privileged than perhaps 95% of men his age, yet he has taken on the role of tortured victim.