Colleges Keep Creating PC Monsters
Are tiny sombreros really that offensive?
How much learning is actually occurring on college campuses today? Given so much of the news out of our institutions of higher learning, it seems the majority of time is being spent punishing those deemed un-PC and having large-scale, knee-jerk reactions to things that should earn little more than a shrug or an eye roll — or offering therapy sessions or counseling to the “offended” students.
Bowdoin, a liberal arts college out of Maine, has added itself to the growing list of colleges that seem to be morphing into politically correct kingdoms cut off from the culture and struggles of the rest of the world.
Two hosts of a tequila party on the Bowdoin campus, one of whom is Colombian, were expelled recently from their dorms, banned from major social events for a year and forced to attend “an educational program facilitated by a faculty member.”
Their offense? It had nothing to do with tequila or partying. It had to do with the students calling their party a “fiesta,” and with photos that popped up on social media showing various attendees wearing tiny sombreros.
Bowdoin responded by sending out emails notifying students they were launching an “investigation” into a possible “act of ethnic stereotyping.” The school didn’t stop there. Bowdoin created several administration controlled “safe spaces” for students to gather and talk about how unsafe the party made them feel, or how offended they were by the tiny sombreros.
Michelle Kruk, a senior and vice president of student government, told the Portland Press Herald, “It’s not about tequila or sombreros. It’s about casual racial and ethnic stereotyping and cultural insensitivity at a school that has seen far too many examples of both.”
The Bowdoin incident is nothing new. We live in a time when even comedian Jerry Seinfeld has refused to perform at college campuses for fear of being accused as politically incorrect.
Last year, a variety of schools including Wesleyan College, Duke University and others, posted warnings to students about dressing in “culturally insensitive” costumes for Halloween. Suggestions for politically correct costumes were given, and staff of some of the schools were provided to police any insensitive costumes. You couldn’t dress up like a cowboy, according to the rules — but a crayon was OK.
Claremont Colleges, a collection of colleges in Southern California, also found themselves at odds with a “culturally insensitive” party last fall. Student government representatives at Harvey Mudd College refused to help sponsor a party because they felt the the mad scientist theme and name were offensive to people with mental health disabilities. The name of the party? “Mudd Goes Mad.”
The politically correct virus doesn’t stop at casual campus parties. Steven Glick, an instructor at Pomona College’s Writing Center and editor-in-chief of the conservative-leaning Claremont Independent, resigned from his campus job not long ago, saying he was being harassed due to his criticism of the college's politically correct tendencies.
College students and faculties are also selective about the "speech" they wish to hear. Public figures such as conservative commentator Ben Shapiro have been criticized when speaking at campuses; indeed, a large poster at the University of Michigan advertising an upcoming April 7 "Truth is a Microaggression" lecture to be given by Shapiro was defaced by a student, as noted by The College Fix at the University of Michigan. The word "Truth" was crossed out; scrawled below was the word "disrespect."
Protests arise about how conservative speakers should not be allowed to give speeches unless another speaker with the opposite point of view is allowed to speak. However, the University of Michigan had no problem holding a debate between media personality Milo Yiannopoulos and activist Julie Bindel on free speech and feminism. The Spectrum Center, an LGBT awareness group on campus, provided a safe space for those who felt threatened by the speakers and their open dialogue. Both speakers identify as LGBT.
These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. College campuses may be creating "safe" spaces, but what they're really creating are culturally inept spaces, leaving students ill-prepared for life. If you can’t handle tiny hats or a "fiesta," how are you going to handle the job market — never mind a world where terrorism and serious crime exists?
It is valiant for colleges to want to stop things such as racism or want to be inclusive to all cultures. However, young people everywhere are taking offense at things that aren’t truly offensive. This generation — and those who coddle them — have become scared of speech they disagree with.
Bowdoin, the college so offended by the tequila party thrown at an off-campus location, also took issue with a Thanksgiving party held last year at a private, off-campus house rented by members of the lacrosse team. In keeping with the party's theme, guests were dressed as pilgrims, Native Americans, and turkeys. At the door, organizers collected canned goods for the community.
After that Thanksgiving party, photos surfaced online of attendees wearing Native American garb, in addition to pilgrim and turkey outfits. The college claimed racial bias against Native Americans, and set about punishing party attendees. Students had to attend "teach-ins" to understand why they were wrong. Then they had to apologize to the Native American Society.
"What you expect from Bowdoin, or any college, is an education from a variety of perspectives," reflected a recent college graduate. "Instead, if you do not believe in their worldview, you are not 'their' student. They have encroached on all aspects of student life to advance secular progressivism, ferreting out transgressions that don’t actually exist."
Contrast all of those reactions with the lack of reaction to a party at Bowdoin hosted the very same night as the tequila and sombrero one. It was an administration-sanctioned "Cold War" party in which people dressed in big fur hats and coats and other garb representative of the Soviet Union. One student even dressed like ruthless dictator Stalin. With no outrage at this party and even an endorsement from the school, how are tequila and tiny sombreros going to be deemed "offensive"?
Even President Obama weighed in on the rampant political correctness on college campuses not long ago.
"I've heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative. Or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans, or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women," he said. "I’ve got to tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views."
He continued, "I mean, I guess that might work in the Soviet Union, but it doesn’t work here. That’s not who we are. That’s not what we’re about."
When President Obama is making sense, you know there is a real problem.
Deirdre Reilly contributed reporting to this piece.