I’m old enough to remember a time when college students objected to providing a platform to certain speakers because they were deemed politically unacceptable. Now students worry whether acts of speech or pieces of writing may put them in emotional peril… [W]hile keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled.

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3 Responses to “Veritas et Phobias”

  1. Robert Mathiesen Says:

    Oh, Brown University!!! — I taught there from 1967 until 2005. This had already become a strong trend by the middle of the 1990s. One dean, in the early 1990s, referred to the University’s undergraduates (in a faculty meeting, forsooth!) as merely “children” who needed to be kept safe and made to feel protected at all costs. The highest priority of each faculty member, she said, must be the safety of every student. — One knowledgeable and sympathetic lawyer, whom I had reason to consult at the time, told me in passing that the standard view among university lawyers and risk managers was that by far the largest legal risks to a university came from faculty and students, and the long-range goal was to keep them from interacting with one another and each other. — This, I suppose, is one of the reasons (beyond the obvious financial ones) for fostering the spread of on-line courses and electronic campuses … I am so glad to be an emeritus now!!!

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Robert: And yet online is turning out to generate its own lurid liabilities – as in the recent yik yak case.

  3. adam Says:

    The expression terminal niceness comes to mind.

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