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Articles / Preparing for College / Political Correctness Counterpoints

Dec. 10, 2015

Political Correctness Counterpoints

The realities of global terrorism, which have affected Europe and the United States recently, have knocked the once-raging stories about bellicose college students' outrage and associated demands off the top of the news. In case you're unfamiliar with the substance of those demands, you can brief yourself here, in my recent post called, appropriately, “The Demands."

The mainstream media have had a field day trumpeting some of the most absurd of these demands and, as a consequence, some college administrators who have feared opposing anything to do with Political Correctness, have caved to the invective.

As an example of the tenor of this movement, here are three “National" demands (complete with adamant upper-case emphasis) from the Black Liberation Collective, aimed not at a specific college, but at “multiple colleges" throughout the nation:

1. WE DEMAND at the minimum, Black students and Black faculty to be reflected by the national percentage of Black folk in the country.

2. WE DEMAND free tuition for Black and indigenous students

3. WE DEMAND a divestment from prisons and an investment in communities.

I encourage you to visit thedemands.org for a comprehensive look at the scope of what students are saying.

The mainstream media have been derelict in their coverage of some counterpoints to these student movements. On balance, I feel that there should be equal time, as much as possible, given to air some opposing views to The Demands. So, here are two such sources:

– First, from the New York Daily News: “Oklahoma university president: School is not a 'day care' or 'safe space'" — Highlights:

An Oklahoma university president has an incendiary message to politically correct students: Grow up or get out.

“This is not a day care," Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, wrote in a fiery blog post on the school's website last week.

“This is a university!"

Thanks to a new wave of political protests on college campuses — like the recent upheavals at the University of Missouri, Yale University and Ithaca College — many colleges are scrambling to provide safe spaces and broader discussions about cultural and racial tensions on campus.

Piper, president of a private evangelical Christian university with about 1,200 students, is having none of it.

His post starts by railing against a student who said he felt “victimized" by an on-campus sermon about love.

“Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic!" Piper writes.

“Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims!…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."

Piper insists the school is “not a 'safe space,' but rather, a place to learn….This is a place where you quickly learned that you need to grow up!" …

The comments following the article are a microcosm of the deep philosophical divide that exists in our nation.

– A second non-mainstream media site, Townhall.com, offers 15 Excerpts That Show How Radical, Weird And Out of Touch College Campuses Have Become that shed some much needed light on “The Demands." Selected highlights:

3) “A University in the San Francisco Area Actually Told Students To Call 911 if They Were Offended….Administrators at a Catholic university in the San Francisco Bay Area have rescinded an official school policy instructing students to clog up the regional 9-1-1 emergency reporting system to report 'bias incidents.'

The school is Santa Clara University, reports Campus Reform…Until this month, however, Santa Clara administrators have been instructing students to report 'bias incidents' using the emergency service reserved for dispatching police, firefighters and ambulances.

"If the bias incident is in progress or just occurred: ALWAYS CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY,' the Santa Clara website instructed students in fierce, all-capital letters."

4) “Educators in the Volunteer State are very concerned that students might be offended by the usage of traditional pronouns like she, he, him and hers, according to a document from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville's Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

…For all you folks who went to school back when there were only him and her – here's a primer: some of the new gender neutral pronouns are ze, hir, zir, xe, xem and xyr."

6) “College Codes Make 'Color Blindness' a Microaggression…wait, what?…. UCLA says “Color Blindness," the idea we shouldn't obsess over people's race, is a microaggression. If you refuse to treat an individual as a 'racial/cultural being,' then you're being aggressive."

7) “The phrase 'politically correct' is now a microaggression according to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The university's 'Just Words' campaign is the work of UWM's 'Inclusive Excellence Center' and aims to 'raise awareness of microaggressions and their impact'—microaggressions like 'politically correct' or 'PC.'"

8) ) “'American,' 'illegal alien,' 'foreigners,' 'mothering,' and 'fathering' are just a handful of words deemed 'problematic' by the University of New Hampshire's Bias-Free Language Guide….Saying 'American' to reference Americans is also problematic. The guide encourages the use of the more inclusive substitutes 'U.S. citizen' or 'Resident of the U.S.' The guide also tries to get students to stop saying 'Caucasian,' 'illegal Immigrant,' 'mother,' 'father' and even the word 'healthy' is said to shame those who aren't healthy."

12) “Clemson University apologizes for serving Mexican food…Students took to Twitter to call the event culturally insensitive and to question the school's efforts to promote diversity….Clemson Dining issued an apology to 'offended' students after hosting a 'Maximum Mexican' food day."

15) “Assistant Dean (at Cornell) Tells a Project Veritas Investigative Journalist that the University Would Allow an ISIS Terrorist to Hold a 'Training Camp' on Campus, Saying: 'It Would be Like Bringing in a Coach to do a Training on a Sports Team.'"

Again, the comments that follow give a good sampling of the pulse of voices heard mainly in the so-called “alternative" media.

As a final thought for my younger readers who are involved in the college application process or are merely thinking about possible colleges to attend, let me quote myself from the end of my “The Demands" post:

So there you have it — a look at the current mood on college campuses around the nation. If you are a high school student (or a parent of a high school student), you can make up your own mind about the legitimacy and effectiveness of the various student movements referenced above. From my perspective, I see the role of higher education as striving to deliver knowledge, skills, and an atmosphere of critical thinking to its students.

If you're interested in acquiring those things in college, you'll have to decide if activism such as demonstrated in “The Demands" will enhance or detract from your college experience. The choice is yours.


Be sure to see my other college-related articles on College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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