Fed up with easily offended students, college president fires back. “This is not a day care. This is a university.”

The current narrative on college students is they are overindulged hothouse flowers who will wilt if exposed to the cold vapors of reality.

Protesters, students and media fill Traditions Plaza during a press conference following the Concerned Students 1950 protest on Monday, Nov. 9 2015, in Columbia, Mo. (Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

Protesters, students and media filled Traditions Plaza at the University of Missouri earlier this month. (Michael Cali/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

That view has been fed by student protests that began at the University of Missouri and Yale but spread to campuses nationwide. The Missouri protests led to the resignation of the president of the university system and the chancellor of the flagship campus.

While the protests are largely focused on legitimate race issues on the campuses, students in some places have expanded to a list of offenses big and small.

As Columbia journalism professor Todd Gitlin wrote in The New York Times:

Why such a widespread and bristling feeling of acute vulnerability followed by attacks on those who disagree? Why the lust for “safe spaces”? Why the clamor for “trigger warnings”? (At my own university, Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” came off the syllabus for a required core course after some students objected to Ovid’s accounts of rape.) Why do so many students see themselves as so vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous texts, arguments, comments? Why so fearful?

Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper was a bit blunter in his response to a student on his campus who complained that a university chapel service offended his sensibilities and made him feel uncomfortable.

In a searing blog, Piper wrote in part:

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice: If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

This is not a day care. This is a university!

The students have their defenders, although they have many more critics contending these protests are the result of giving every kid a trophy. (Do kids even want those dime-store trophies?)

Writing in The Nation, Bruce Shapiro said students deserve respect and support.

He wrote:  (This is a short excerpt. You can read his full piece here.)

“Grow up.” That seems to be the main sentiment directed at student protesters at the University of Missouri and Yale this week from many quarters…I dissent. The students I know—at Yale, Columbia, and elsewhere—are not asking to be protected from the world. It’s the exact opposite.

People, we live in a post-traumatic culture. You can’t ask the world to embrace the psychological injuries of combat veterans and 9/11 survivors and at the same time expect students of color to shut up about the emotional legacies of racism. You can’t expect female students to shut up about the stresses and complexities of living on campuses that until very recently were as complicit in covering up sexual assaults as the archdiocese of Boston. And once the history of violence is on the table, you can’t expect anything but a contentious and challenging conversation.

 

 

 

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41 comments
mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

I was offended by someone's horrible taste in clothes yesterday, and I truly needed a safe place for my sense of style after the encounter. 


I was offended that someone used a double negative in conversation, and I felt I needed a safe, grammatically correct environment. 


I was offended yesterday when I ordered a steak medium RARE, and it came back medium.  I felt like I needed to lie down in a dark room because my taste buds were offended. 


I was offended that my cosmetic store stopped carrying my favorite pressed powder.  I want to sue the company because I LOVED that powder, and now I won't be able to use it anymore.  I NEED my safe pressed powder!


I was offended a lot yesterday. 

Sheesh. 

These people who are so easily offended will end up as axe murderers when they have to get a job and support themselves. 



Cere
Cere

Well, it appears that Todd Gitlin will be job-hunting soon.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Many have stated that "life is not fair - get used to it."  How jaded. 

 Life can be made more fair, more just, and more loving.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings

Moreover, life -- human life -- is what we choose to make of it.  Life is unfair only because we choose to make it unfair very often in the belief that some competitive, Darwinian "survival of the fittest" is the unalterable rule. 


That said, it seems to me a lot of today's social ills stem from having inculcated "self-esteem" too much to the exclusion of inculcating the value of esteeming others.  It seems it was much the beginning of a vicious cycle of selfishness that will manifest exponentially in the next generation, with both neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism having been catalyzing agents.  "Choice" is but the tip of the iceberg of this kind of selfishness that, like too much self-esteem, makes it okay for life to be made unfair, that makes it okay to "win" and make someone else the loser.


Thus "Johnson's Law:" Make someone a loser for no good and moral reasons, they will invariably figure out how to become a winner, if only in their own eyes, if only to promote their own demise and the demise of others.


Johnson's Law derives from the principle: "Push a system too far, the system will push back."


This principle applies everywhere, regardless.  For example, push a college president too far, the college president will push back.


Also, for example, let the many who see the glass half empty push too far the many who see the glass half full, the glass is likely to get shattered in the ensuing turmoil. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

IMHO the students are customers buying a very expensive product (many of them spend decades paying of loans for that product). 


If they want to throw their weight around to shape the product they are buying, good for them.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

I myself am glad that students today are speaking out about issues of injustice/inequality that they experience in the colleges they attend. They've been doing that for a long time (at least since the early 1960s), and it's in the nature of those who are young and freshly encountering such problems to complain. Let the colleges push back by pointing out the nature of constitutionally protected free speech. You don't learn about such things by reading about them in textbooks, but by seeing free speech in action. 


It will be very interesting to see what happens when the present Islamophobia sweeping the country is played out on campuses that have a sizable number of international students. Will they be considered "easily offended"?

anothercomment
anothercomment

I am trying to help a friends son apply to college. I was trying to find a safe school and happened upon LSU's financial aid website. I had a good laugh when some international students were whining on the blog about LSU not offering any undergraduate financial aid for international students or non citizens. The whines were hilarious.

I held myself back from commenting, don't you get it someone has to pay for US citizens and Lousiana Residents Go to college, Unfortunately, my friends son did not score above the 28 ACT or the SAT cuts to get the instate financial aid breaks at LSU.

It was an enjoyable read to read the whining. Evidentially, the Saudi Crown Prince is no longer paying for all Saudi's to be educated abroad and Chineese are on their own.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

 Here's a lesson that these little darlins have never learned:  "It ain't always about you."

What we are seeing are children who grew up with Dr. Spock parents, who got a trophy for participating, who played in games in which they never kept score, who received a candy bar if they would just quit throwing a tantrum, and who were told "It ain't your fault, 350 years of slavery, Jim Crow, racism, blah, blah, blah."

Yep, the narcissistic little brats grew into narcissistic, whiney adults.  Go figure.

Don't worry.  If they ever graduate, they'll have to come see someone like me and ask for a job.  I'll look at their 2.0 GPA in major and toss their application and resume into the trash.


There is a bit of sweet irony in all this.  For years, these same college presidents have been openly discriminating against whites in order to increase "diversity" - often by lowering admissions standards for the non-whites.  This entire sorry episode of blacks biting the hands that tried to help them up reminds me of the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Lee_CPA2 Another way it isn't always about them.  If someone treats them unkindly, maybe that person is just having a bad day and they are the random victim.  Welcome to life.

jerryeads
jerryeads

Having lived through the '60's on college campuses (yup, I'm that old), I'm ecstatic we still have groups gathering to voice their issues. When we suppress that, we stop America. That said, I hope and trust it's a tiny minority that would whine about such as too-tough sermons. Happy to surmise that "my kids" in this little corner of the world seem to have healthy (i.e., thicker) skin.

jbarco
jbarco

Rather than writing a long,cogent reply, please let me distill my thoughts. Life is not fair, get over it. Examine your life and improve what you can of it. We are all different; some lust for money and power, but if manifested vis a vie Donald Trump no thank you. Some want beauty or a sculpted body. What, do you think that's the solution to loneliness or health? If you do then you are sentenanced to a week of television between 3 pm and 5. Bring back soap operas I say, then we'd at least know it was made up. Folk, go and make a life based upon what you experience, and decide to continue on that path, or not, but do not think you have all the answers. Try to listen more and speak less. Now that's a path to a good education, and much of it is free.

CallMeStupid
CallMeStupid

In 2012, when 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titianic was observed, many a twitter head posted : " OMG! That really happened?"  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Perhaps the perspective of reinstating the draft might help some of our students grow up.

redweather
redweather

@Wascatlady Serving in the military does other things than help a person grow up, and some of those things are highly detrimental. I've known quite a few guys who have never gotten over their experiences on the battlefield. Then there are the ones who think that have gotten over those experiences.

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

We reap what we sow.  It started way back when we were giving trophies for participation in most anything, from grammar school to little league baseball.  Then, new educators such as myself, in the name of increasing self esteem, were taught to thank the children for saying thank-you, or for not jabbing a pencil in the back of a fellow student, or for not puling Susie's pigtails, etc.  We also told them that they were wonderful, even when they obviously were not. So we essentially lied to the kids, and they believed us.  This resulted in an inflated sense of self. Now too many of them are whining about "safe space," intolerant of opinions contrary to their own, lack of free tuition, and the need for a $15 per hour minimum wage.  Apparently, these kind of kids are still babies.  Would you pay them $15 per hour?  They still haven't grown up to realize that the world just ain't fair.  Pity.

Yang Tian
Yang Tian

Agree with every word you said.

redweather
redweather

Some years ago two students came to my office and complained about having to read Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." They saw no value in reading an essay that, according to them, advocates cannibalism. At first I thought they were joking, but they weren't. More recently a student complained about having to read Thomas More's "Utopia" because, according to him, it is a "communist tract." Students have also complained about Joyce Carol Oates' short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" as well as Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."


My stock response is that students are free to decide what they will or will not read.  Nonetheless, they are responsible for everything assigned in the syllabus and can expect to be tested it on it.


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

It seems to me that there is little love demonstrated for others in the majority of posts, thus far, on this thread.  I ask those who condemn, to try, instead, to understand. Our world must heal, and that will be accomplished through love and understanding, not through condemnation.

redweather
redweather

@Travelfish Love and understanding are examples of "liberal bias"? Thanks for reminding me why I'm not a conservative.

jbarco
jbarco

Do not think "biases" are inherently bad. I have a bias for Springsteen, but not one for AC/DC. No, it's when they become prejudices that the majority of conflicts arise.

redweather
redweather

@jbarco How in the world could love and understanding ever become prejudices?

Travelfish
Travelfish

Then start by reexamining your own tired old liberal biases.

Brains2
Brains2

Mary do you think ISIS is fair. When they attack only the best survive and only the best can defeat them. If you open a business and you have two candidates to hire will you hire one who did not work hard and learn in school (they received poor grades) and will always want more and give less for their pay or will you hire the one who applies themself and who has great ideas for your business, they will work hard to make you succeed. If you say the second you are a hypocrite. If you say the second - go to the toilet and flush thousands of dollars your business failure would be slightly faster. Tough love is teaching your kid to stand on their own two feet and become great and succeed. The only way the coddled succeed is either luck or mommy paying their way. Have you seen the news about the affluenza killer? He was coodled and claims he is not to blame for the deaths. That is the future of your kids unless you learn. The tough principal will graduate successful students you would be happy to hire and help you succeed. Replace him with a whimp that follows your ideas and the world will have less love since the students will not be allowed to be told they should show love to others which the principal wants and you disagree. You do not want them to be made uncomfortable about not showing love.

anothercomment
anothercomment

Thank goodness someone is finally speaking up about these ignorant race baiters. The Univ. of Missouri President made a big mistake of resigning. He was totally set up by the Football coach who knew he was sick and planning on resigning.

I a liberal from NY, learned the hard way to avoid the HBCU grads. Now I am sure in addition to the obvious ridiculous names to avoid the hiring pile. A Google search of anyone and their activism in any of these "black lives matter or campus protests " will be done before hiring. One absolutely can not tolerate such winers in any workforce environment it is toxic.

anothercomment
anothercomment

Wascatlady, you have been isolated up in white and Hispanic North Georgia from the raveges of the outdated HBCU model.

I made the mistake of thinking every university was equal. That every GPA was equally. Never did I think the skills gap would be so great. Then I heard for the next century about what a bad hire the guy was. How he never got any work done. How he lied, accused them, sabatoged them,. I got rid of him to another department, Yet always lurking, always effecting the work product and atmosphere of others,

We need a level playing field for all. It is time to stop coddling.

Read the NY times one of the main complainers at Amhurst who graduated from a competive Public High school, stated that when she got to Amhurst on a full ride she was unprepared academically and socially. So that is Amhurst's problem and now she should whine and demand they change the mascot.

Get over it, I was called Hick, all sorts of thing, mocked for my work study jobs. I didn't have anywhere near a free ride to the Private Unversity I attended. I was never going to fit in with the girl across the hall who attended Choate. Even today, my college friends are those who shared work study jobs in the Campus Library. We buckled down and studied and we overcame.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

We must never deny the importance of demonstrated love for others to inspire those others with hope and positive action to improve their lives. As the law is the great leveler of humanity, love is the great healer of humanity.  Nothing is more profound than that.  That eternal truth is beyond politics and beyond universities, and its source is the Universe's Creator.


Brains2
Brains2

One of the students were complaining that they don't want to feel bad for not showing love. The principal wants the student to feel bad enough so they will show more love but that is wrong ... how? In the book written for us by the universal creator says those who do not work - do not eat. Jesus made people feel guilty and tried to inspire them to show true love not coodling. Israel was given a great law by God when field were harvested the farmer could not make a second pass to find grain missed by fast workers. Some would be underneath and harder to see so got missed. The unemployed, fatherless children, and widows would go through and glean the remainder. Their hard work was rewarded with food and excess could be sold for other needs. They had a sense of worth, the market recieved more product, the farmer did not loose much, and everyone one was a winner. But you seem to disagree with the creator.

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

We need more Everett Pipers running the schools, but the Liberal Left have run them all off, and now wonder why kids are out of control.

meno
meno

@Don't Tread Are you sure you can be comfortable with his de-emphasis on coddling selfishness as well as his advocacy of guilt for those who should be more loving toward others?  There is a certain irony to be noticed given Pipers' words and who his defenders are.  You could say the president is actually calling for socialism!

readcritic
readcritic

@Don't Tread And this all starts in public school. Students can say anything to teachers, but watch out if a teacher says anything, however innocent, that can be misinterpreted and misconstrued. There will be #&*%! to pay. The teacher is always disciplined instead of the student and it becomes part of the teacher's record/evaluation, but not the student's. 

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

What these students face in racism and sexism is miniscule to what previous generations faced.  And they fail to distinguish between racism/sexism and legitimate differences of opinion.  They seem incapable of accepting that anybody's opinion but their own could be valid.  They ask for diversity but try to shout down true diversity.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

Great piece by that Ok. Wesleyan president.  And great example he gave.  A sermon that was just too difficult to listen to!

Travelfish
Travelfish

No, Maureen. The protests we're seeing are not focused on legitimate race issues. They are organized and publicized by the same racial grievance industry which puts its own interests before those of the nation.

And preys on the gullibility of the young, and the leftist inclinations of the mainstream media.