Yale University Encourages Activism, Social Justice Sensibilities from Students
It's hardly alone — too many colleges seem to be nudging aside an academic focus in favor of 'other priorities'
It’s not enough that many universities across the country today are drenched in political correctness.
Once upon a time, colleges were centers of intellectualism and academic priorities, of focused learning in the higher educational setting.
Sure, some fine schools still are. Yet Yale University is among those colleges that right now appear to be encouraging students to arrive on campus with well-honed “social justice” sensibilities.
“We expect them [new students who come to Yale] to be versed in issues of social justice,” wrote Hannah Mendlowitz, a senior assistant director of admissions and director of recruitment, in a blog post recently on the school’s admissions site.
And what was the blog post called, you may ask? That’s easy: “In Support of Student Protests.”
Best-selling author David Horowitz finds social justice to be a loaded term. “To progressives, the world is a fallen place — beset by racism, sexism, homophobia, and the rest — that must be transformed and made right. This redemption was once called communism and is now called socialism, or ‘social justice,'” as he wrote in “Big Agenda.”
Mendlowitz, though, did not enumerate the specific social justice issues she thinks students should bring to campus.
But she did say this: "We encourage them to be vocal when they see an opportunity for change in our institution and in the world. We value student voices on campus, and we encourage discourse and action," she wrote. "To punish our applicants for doing just that would go against the very beliefs that make Yale such a special place to study. Instead, I support those high school students around the country and urge other educators and administrators to do the same," she added.
The blog post, Mendlowitz indicated, was inspired by a question from a high school student in the aftermath of the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month.
"Will we get rescinded if we get suspended for engaging in a school walk-out to bring attention to the school shooting issue?" asked the unidentified student, who'd already been accepted at Yale, one of the eight Ivy League schools in this country.
To which Mendlowitz responded, "Of course not."
She continued, "What high schoolers across the nation are doing right now is brave, it is good, it is larger than an absence from school or a blemish on an academic record or a college admissions decision. If you can't march beside them, at least stand behind them. And at the very least, do not stand in their way."
LifeZette reached out to Mendlowitz to ask whether her blog post reflected the official position of Yale University, and if preferential treatment is given to applicants with a predilection for walkouts and protests — a classic social warrior attribute. LifeZette did not hear back by publication time.
In her role as a recruitment executive, though, is it Mendlowitz's place to act as social justice cheerleader?
"In high school, we teach students calculus and U.S. history, literature and physics. We teach them how to write analytical essays and lab reports. But we also have to teach them how to think and feel and be proud and involved citizens of wherever they live. I believe it is our duty to teach them the latter just as much as the former," she added in her post.
Perhaps a dose of the real world outside of the ivory tower — where success is measured by solving problems rather than merely "walking out" — might do a great deal of good.
Consider, too, what Tufts University in Massachusetts shared recently with its students. It has now "joined other colleges and universities in quelling applicants' fears that protesting firearm policies [in this country] might be met with repercussions from admissions departments," as a post on its site made clear.
"In a February 23 blog post on the Tufts admissions website, Karen Richardson, dean of undergraduate admissions and enrollment management, responded to applicants' fears that protesting could hurt their applications," according to a piece in Tufts Daily.
"I want to assure you that Tufts is a place where civic engagement is not only tolerated; it's encouraged … strongly," Richardson wrote. "So, when you act on your values, in a principled way, on issues about which you feel passionately, it will not be held against you in the application process. In fact, we may even take notice," the statement said.
Some folks might consider taking a page from author Everett Piper's book "Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth." In a recent column, "Bringing Light to the Dark Halls of the Ivory Tower," in the Washington Times, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University offered these thoughts: "History tells us that when we elevate feelings over facts and opinions over truth ... we build a house of cards that will fall to mankind's inevitable temper tantrum of seeking power and control."
He added, "Time and time again we see that when we subordinate what is self-evident and factual to what we selfishly 'feel,' we fall prey to the rule of the gang or the tyranny of one."
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.