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:
...in 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.