The war on words on college campuses

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The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 12th, 2015, 6:52 pm 

I hope I'm not the only one here who is troubled by what I see as an over-sensitivity on the part of college students lately.

I found an article in The Atlantic that discusses it much better than I could hope to do.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

I'll warn you, it is long. Read it if you have the time. I'd like to hear your opinions.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Watson on November 12th, 2015, 7:44 pm 

Seems to be a cyclic thing that grows out of control until someone stands up a points out people are being. Some years back I recall being morally swayed, to say seasons greeting to Jewish client. Then it seemed the voice of Jewish people was that it was in fact not offensive. Still it comes up in the schools that it is an offensive season for some of the darlings.

I think there will always be an over sensitivity of some kind, depending on what people are prepared to exploit.

Take care Paul, lest we agree on to many things.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 12th, 2015, 8:17 pm 

Watson,

We seem to have surpassed the cyclical stage. Professors are losing their jobs and many have become afraid to teach for fear of offending students.

I sometimes lament the lack of willingness to hear opposing views by some posters here on this forum, but colleges should be a place to hear, explore and debate differing views. Well, the same could be said of this forum, but we are (presumably) adults entitled to hold our own opinions - opinions we have, hopefully formed after hearing, exploring, etc. How will our youth learn critical thinking if they are allowed to avoid all critical thought?
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Braininvat on November 12th, 2015, 9:58 pm 

Good article. Spirited contention is the lifeblood of democracy. "Microaggression" - pfft!
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Watson on November 12th, 2015, 11:24 pm 

By definition we will not surpass a cyclical stage. This is likely to get worse, with firings and fear of offending, before someone stands their ground and says enough is enough.
Then students and public on the sidelines of a manipulative agenda will lose interest and those promoting this ajenda will move on. Yes colleges, and life should be a place to hear, explore and debate differing views, but..... we have criminals exploiting youth, terrorists exploiting populations, and even legitimate political parties in the west exploiting voters. Why?
Because these groups are all using People. Using a group of youth to be gangbangers, and using a population to hide among and provide unwitting support for terrorists, and using voters to support the agenda of the political leadership. Do you really think student minds are off limits?
Yes a teacher may lose his/her job or even be in fear of the class. But when it is of wide spread notice, even epidemic, do you really think it is a problem of individually college student attitudes?
My OPINION is there is likely an agenda to influence the minds of students, and even recruit those more easily influenced. Moral suasion and passive aggressive tactics would go unnoticed until the pattern emerges.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 13th, 2015, 7:16 am 

Paul Anthony,

Society seems to be diversifying. We have some institutions that are becoming increasingly libertarian while others are becoming increasingly liberal. America's political parties are going through a similar divergence.

The linked article looks at universities going in the more liberal direction, e.g. small liberal arts colleges. Oberlin College students proudly joke about how their policies are so sensitive that they effectively can't date. Women-only colleges are having LGBT issues like how male a genderqueer student can get before being kicked off campus.

By contrast, more libertarian campuses are becoming more tolerant of free speech and are easing social exclusion. Some campuses are even adding co-ed housing that allows male and female students to room together.

As our society becomes more diverse, we'll see some institutions increasingly embrace restrictions on speech, trigger warnings, isolation, etc., while other institutions may become increasing libertarian. This seems like a good thing, at least in the respect that there're more meaningful choices for us to pick from.

One potential problem is when members join communities not suited for them. For example, say an extremely sensitive student goes to a very libertarian university, or a very libertarian student goes to a college with extreme speech restrictions; in either case, the mismatch is likely to lead to some bad stuff. We just need to advocate awareness in what particular communities believe in so that individuals can pick what's right for them.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 13th, 2015, 9:54 am 

Tangential -

My one big concern comes from how society as a whole will maintain consistency when our members are becoming more divergent.

Regarding the divergence in politics, do governments function as well when elected officials have more material disagreements with each other?

Regarding this thread, if a subset of colleges does increasingly adopt restrictions on free speech, then how will their alumni effect society later on? Will such alumni:
  1. develop tolerance for others' speech and actions;
  2. retreat into self-imposed isolation as even casual conversations "trigger" them;
  3. radicalize into a crusade against what they perceive to be tormenting them;
or something else?

It could be cool to do a social study on how recent alumni fair after graduation, considering groups for:
  1. alumni from small liberal arts universities;
  2. alumni from technical/libertarian universities;
  3. all alumni not in (i) or (ii);
  4. all alumni.
Though it might be kinda hard to account for the noise due to profession since political biases strongly correlate with professional interests.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 13th, 2015, 12:33 pm 

Natural ChemE » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:16 am wrote:

The linked article looks at universities going in the more liberal direction, e.g. small liberal arts colleges. Oberlin College students proudly joke about how their policies are so sensitive that they effectively can't date. Women-only colleges are having LGBT issues like how male a genderqueer student can get before being kicked off campus.


It doesn't seem to be limited to small liberal arts colleges. They protested Halloween costumes at Yale, where the alumni are likely to become the nation's leaders.

Natural ChemE wrote: By contrast, more libertarian campuses are becoming more tolerant of free speech and are easing social exclusion. Some campuses are even adding co-ed housing that allows male and female students to room together.


You may be right. Perhaps it's only the more liberal schools making the news. Can you give some examples of those leaning libertarian? Except for Hillsdale College, I can't think of any.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby vivian maxine on November 13th, 2015, 1:24 pm 

I always saw it as being at an age where they are looking for a cause to champion. As they graduate and get overwhelmed with working for a living, the causes are forgotten. That is for the majority of cause-seekers. Once in a while, we get a few who keep the cause going for years and years into their adulthood. They found it worth working at. But mostly isn't it just a stage in life where they see so many wrongs and hope they can fix them?

It is different in today's college culture, though, as some have already pointed out. Colleges seem to have been turned over to students at a cost to professors and students who want and need an education. No one is being taught how to deal with these causes even when they are worth fighting for. Colleges have been turned over to students and students do not know what to do with this. So, they just shout "look at us".

Sad situation.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 13th, 2015, 3:49 pm 

Paul Anthony,

In general it seems to be more technical, commercial institutions that'd be libertarian. For example, engineers tend to be relatively individualistic, introverted, and internally attributing. I can't remember ever seeing engineers upset over something "triggering" or anything remotely like that. STEM as a whole tends to be closer to this mentality.

Hah, sometimes I just love Obama. But in all seriousness, some people are pretty emotionally frail; they'll need trigger warnings or they can't operate. I'm inclined to see it as a mental disability.

I wonder, if everyone who got worked up about emo junk was told to shut up and get over it, how many could? If most could, then perhaps a harder stance would be appropriate. However if most can't, then it'd be a legit mental illness and some coddling would seem like the humane recourse. Just, ya know.. so long as the coddling isn't disruptive to healthy individuals pursuing their education and such like normal. Which is why I like the idea that there are small liberal arts universities that cater to people with special needs.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 13th, 2015, 4:45 pm 

Natural ChemE » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:49 pm wrote:Which is why I like the idea that there are small liberal arts universities that cater to people with special needs.


If by "cater" you mean take their money and give students a degree that does nothing to prepare them for the real world in a way that might make it possible for them to earn enough to pay off their student loans...
Yeah, they're a great idea. Some "colleges" have morphed into high-priced high schools for emotional midgets.

But I'm ranting. I probably should have preceded this post with a trigger warning. I'll stop now. :)
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 13th, 2015, 6:55 pm 

I have decided it is wrong to blame the students. By the time they get to college they have been conditioned to believe nothing is safe to say, lest it offend someone. The indoctrination into this mindset begins early.

http://www.infowars.com/video-fourth-gr ... ve-letter/

The fault lies not with the students, but with stupid adults who "educate" them.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 13th, 2015, 7:36 pm 

Paul Anthony,

Don't get me wrong, I used to think well of you, but it's just now clicking for me just how much even that was an underestimation. You're a really good person.

I don't know about this college junk. I've visited a lot of these places and a lot of the students are just broken; they're far beneath what I would recognize as being functional, both on emotional and intellectual levels.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby vivian maxine on November 14th, 2015, 8:10 am 

Paul Anthony » November 13th, 2015, 3:45 pm wrote:
Natural ChemE » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:49 pm wrote:Which is why I like the idea that there are small liberal arts universities that cater to people with special needs.


If by "cater" you mean take their money and give students a degree that does nothing to prepare them for the real world in a way that might make it possible for them to earn enough to pay off their student loans...
Yeah, they're a great idea. Some "colleges" have morphed into high-priced high schools for emotional midgets.

But I'm ranting. I probably should have preceded this post with a trigger warning. I'll stop now. :)


There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth. I still remember the class that went on strike because the professor assigned a Shakespeare reading. The dean told the professor that she could not make them read it if they didn't want to and she should give them another assignment.

IMO, it goes back to when we stopped making children repeat grades lest it damage their psyche.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 15th, 2015, 12:51 am 

‘I Need Some Muscle’: Missouri Activists Block Journalists, New York Times, had kind of a weird story with videos of these issues in action.

A linked video was pretty good [trigger warning; also the commentary is a tad obnoxious]:
    .
It's pretty hard for me to believe that some of these people are real.

I was confused about why the protesters didn't want a journalist near their camp, but the video explains it starting at 9:46.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 15th, 2015, 1:32 am 

This video's related to the Yale protests:
Interesting point:
Yale University Students Protest Halloween Costume Email (VIDEO 3), YouTube (~0:40) wrote:It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It's about creating a home here!

Seems to directly acknowledge the desire some students have for emotional comfort over education.

In my prior comments, I meant to say that I agree with Obama's comments for legitimate academic institutions; there's no excuse for anti-intellectualism at Yale. But students like the one in the above video should also be able to find environments suitable for them; that "home" where things are more comfortable and they don't have to face things that upset them.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 15th, 2015, 1:58 am 

Thanks, that's a great video. I like the narrator's sense of humor. (On the first video)

Bernie Sanders says college should be free. I didn't think I'd agree, but schools like this one offer the sort of education that should be free. It's not worth anything.

Progressives are fond of saying how important preschool is. For the first time, I agree. These students should all be in preschool.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 15th, 2015, 2:20 am 

Paul Anthony,

I still can't believe that girl pressed her boobs against someone (1:54), started screaming at them, then pushed them off a ledge (3:00) - on camera.

Looks like the ground below was concrete. Ouch.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 15th, 2015, 2:59 am 

Here's Richard Dawkins (evolutionary biologist) talking about how this junk's hurting scientific progress:
    .
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 15th, 2015, 3:17 am 

Ah wells. Lots of pathetic people on video; fun stuff.

To leave this off on a positive note, thankfully these dysfunctional people are a pretty small minority. Sure they're really vocal - they're literally screaming in public areas while their more studious peers are trying to keep quiet in the library - but they're not as numerous as their screaming and attention-mongering would seem to suggest.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 15th, 2015, 1:20 pm 

Natural ChemE » Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:17 am wrote:
To leave this off on a positive note, thankfully these dysfunctional people are a pretty small minority. Sure they're really vocal - they're literally screaming in public areas while their more studious peers are trying to keep quiet in the library - but they're not as numerous as their screaming and attention-mongering would seem to suggest.


That's true, but that anyone could survive high school in such pitiful shape emotionally and intellectually says something about public school. That's assuming they attended public school. Maybe they were coddled in private schools? They had to learn this dysfunction somewhere.

Considering the way the school administration has reacted, maybe they learned in college.

IMO, the only students who deserve a "safe space" are those who are actually trying to get an education.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 16th, 2015, 1:19 pm 

Some sense of sanity may yet prevail. This letter demonstrates what might have been missed in all of the media furor - that some of the students are serious and rational. I find it reassuring.

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20151115/claremont-mckenna-college-student-body-letter-criticizes-recent-protests
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Natural ChemE on November 19th, 2015, 7:59 pm 

Tangential, but I ran into some neat stuff about emotionalism and its interaction with academia.

Just saw this article:
There’s an awful cost to getting a PhD that no one talks about, Jennifer Walker wrote:One night during the third year of my PhD program, I sat on my bed with a packet of tranquilizers and a bottle of vodka. I popped a few pills in my mouth and swigged out of the bottle, feeling them burn down my throat. Moments later, I realized I was making a terrible mistake. I stopped, trembling as I realized what I’d nearly done.
Apparently some folks take academia really hard.

The above article linked this study:
The Other Mental Health Crisis, Scott Jaschik wrote:Among the Ph.D. students, the highest rate of apparent depression was in arts and humanities fields -- 64 percent. That's much higher than the rates found in the biological or physical sciences and engineering (all in the 43-46 percent range), the social sciences (34 percent) and business (28 percent).
I'd guess that the social sciences and business both enjoy lower depression rates compared to STEM since they tend to involve more socialization, reducing feelings of isolation that can cause many students to feel depressed. However, the extreme depression rate in the Arts and Humanities strike me as likely to be representative of something else.

It'd be interesting to look into exactly what that 64% figure means. I mean, if it's suggesting that about 2 out of every 3 academics in those fields is significantly depressed, that knowledge would seem important to understanding the practice of those fields. But I haven't yet looked into exactly what this number represents. It's probably better explained in this PDF.

Actually the 43-46% rate for STEM really seems like it's a major issue to be aware of. I'll have to read into it later!
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 19th, 2015, 10:16 pm 

Natural ChemE » Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:59 pm wrote:I'd guess that the social sciences and business both enjoy lower depression rates compared to STEM since they tend to involve more socialization, reducing feelings of isolation that can cause many students to feel depressed. However, the extreme depression rate in the Arts and Humanities strike me as likely to be representative of something else.


I'm guessing, too, being by no means an expert in this field. STEM majors involve intense study. Social sciences, not so much. The high rates for Arts & Humanities would seem to be a mystery unless this is a field of study that attracts people who are predisposed to depression. I don't know how one could gather the data, but it would be interesting if a study followed students beginning in HS and on through their college years.

For me, HS was depressing. I wasn't diagnosed as such, and I don't mean to suggest I was clinically depressed, but those were not happy days. I attempted to take as many math and science courses as was allowed, and when forced to study a foreign language I chose Spanish only because I'd heard it was the easiest language to learn. I didn't want to expend an undo amount of effort on a subject for which I had no interest. Wasn't it bad enough that I had to take English Lit? Hadn't I suffered enough with 4 years of Phys. Ed?

Perhaps - and this is pure unadulterated speculation - depressed people choose a course of study that will present the least challenge and require the least effort.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby vivian maxine on November 20th, 2015, 1:38 pm 

"Perhaps - and this is pure unadulterated speculation - depressed people choose a course of study that will present the least challenge and require the least effort."

Probably hits the nail right on the head. Another point, perhaps. Some of those humanities people came to university already depressed. I'm only speculating here but I suspect depressed people enjoy reading about those who have what they call a better life. In other words, looking for a better life, one wants to know how the other half lives. So they turn to literature and related subjects.

All that is guessing. My main point is that you are quite likely right that depressed people would choose the easiest way out - something they are interested in and have a talent for.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Braininvat on November 23rd, 2015, 1:28 pm 

More stupidity: drastic erasures of historical figures due to their not embodying a 21st century moral stance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/23/nyreg ... -name.html

Puhleeze.

Have students lost all sense of CONTEXT?
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on November 23rd, 2015, 7:12 pm 

Someone once said, " He who fails to learn from history is doomed to repeat it". I can't remember who said it, so it is entirely possible that that person may have also made some comment that would be considered racist.
That would be unfortunate, because that would require that we erase everything he EVER said, for fear of hurting some feelings. And the wisdom of his words, like so many things, will be lost to future generations.

How did "Black lives matter" devolve into "Black feelings matter"?
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Eclogite on November 23rd, 2015, 9:27 pm 

Paul Anthony » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:12 pm wrote:Someone once said, " He who fails to learn from history is doomed to repeat it". I can't remember who said it, so it is entirely possible that that person may have also made some comment that would be considered racist.
That would be unfortunate, because that would require that we erase everything he EVER said, for fear of hurting some feelings. And the wisdom of his words, like so many things, will be lost to future generations.

How did "Black lives matter" devolve into "Black feelings matter"?
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana.

From the little I know of him you have probably chosen a rather poor example. I suspect he was perhaps one of the least of his time prone to prejudice. This, however, does not detract from your fundamental argument. Here is an alternative for you:

About a decade ago the BBC ran a series of programs and a poll to determine who was the "Greatest Britain". Winston Churchill was a clear winner. That's the Churchill who resisted the break up of the Empire and tool few measures to prevent famine in India. Do we wish to forget his personal courage and his inspired wartime leadership because he was, also, at times, a drunken, racist bastard?

I believe that is your basic point. I don't have an answer. I think it is a good question.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Paul Anthony on December 10th, 2015, 4:32 pm 

I thought, or rather hoped, the silliness on college campuses would fade away, but...

Students at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania are up in arms over the name of one of their school’s buildings—because of “racial overtones.”

The building’s name? Lynch Memorial Hall.

Students are concerned that the name “Lynch” is too similar to the word “lynch,” which obviously(?) conjures up the image of groups of white people hanging a black person. But Lynch Hall isn’t named after a form of vigilante capital punishment. It’s named after Clyde Lynch, a former president of Lebanon Valley College. Because Lynch just happens to be a last name—just like “racially-tinged” names like Black, White, and Brown are also last names - doesn't stop some people from seeing it as a microaggression.

I think I finally understand why they call such things "microaggressions". No aggressive remark could be any smaller than this one.
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Re: The war on words on college campuses

Postby Braininvat on December 10th, 2015, 5:49 pm 

Are we expected to give up Dorothy Lynch salad dressing, too?

What about Hidden Valley ranch? Too suggestive?

And the dark keys on my piano...should I put white enamel on them and call them sharpflats?
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