Delicate campus flowers need careful parenting


A warning not to wear culturally insensitive Halloween costumes sparked an imbroglio at Yale, which went viral over the weekend. A lecturer asked in an email, “Is there no room anymore for a child to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”

Students went ballistic. When an administrator (who is the lecturer’s spouse) defended free speech, some students wanted his head. One student wrote in an op-ed (now taken down), “He doesn’t get it. And I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.”

Washington Post columnist (and Tufts professor) Daniel Drezner was initially horrified by the spectacle but ultimately backtracked. Invoking Friedrich Hayek’s insights from “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Drezner cautions outside observers that “there is an awful lot of knowledge that is local in character, that cannot be culled from abstract principles or detached observers.”

As a Hayek fanboy and champion of localism, I should be quite sympathetic. But this time, I think Drezner’s initial reaction was closer to the mark. The notion that the Yale incident is an isolated one defies all of the evidence.

Reality check: Good, but they’re still missing the point: In an age when working class jobs went to China and lower middle class jobs (title searching, medical dicta, etc.)  are being AI-d, arts programs at U’s – who are no longer allowed a canon, remember – must mainly turn out bureaucrats supervising vast and growing masses of entitle-ees.

The budding bureaucrats necessarily cultivate, seek out, and empathize with unproductive feelings, and view independent thinkers and problem-solvers as enemies.

Always have, always will, but they didn’t used to have the upper hand.

  • Maneki-neko

    The “schools” accept these “students” because in fact the schools are run like businesses. They offer silly degrees in useless subjects, essentially providing daycare services to young adults. Perhaps there really is some demand for those daycare services, who knew.

    Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy is excited about rethinking education, decoupling learning from credentials. If he is right (and this BS on campus continues) I can see college degrees becoming much less important.

    • tom_billesley

      Some universities are not much better value in education than the bogus colleges that allow “students” to get an entry visa then absent themselves to get a job washing dishes.

  • simus1

    Given today’s high tech medical screening diagnostic techniques, plus the usual interview hocus-pocus, it should be fairly simple to “separate the wheat from the chaff” when it comes to education. Staff and students. Start to finish.

  • seaoh

    About sums it up.