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PC Campus Culture
PC Mayhem at Wesleyan

Anyone who may have been hoping that the 2014-2015 academic year represented “peak PC”, and that we would have to endure fewer headlines about campus “microaggressions”, “safe spaces”, and “trigger warnings” in 2015-2016, take note: The latest news out of one elite liberal arts college suggests we still have a ways to go. Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post has a good piece on the mayhem that ensued after a Wesleyan student, Bryan Stascavage, wrote critically about Black Lives Matter in the school newspaper:

Within 24 hours of publication, students were stealing and reportedly destroying newspapers around campus. In a school cafe, a student screamed at Stascavage through tears, declaring that he had “stripped all agency away from her, made her feel like not a human anymore,” Stascavage told me in a phone interview. Over the following days, he said, others muttered “racist” under their breath as he passed by.

The Argus’s editors published a groveling apology on the paper’s front page. They said they’d “failed the community” by publishing Stascavage’s op-ed without a counterpoint, and said that it “twist[ed] facts.” They promised to make the paper “a safe space for the student of color community.” This self-flagellation proved insufficient; students circulated a petition to defund the newspaper.

The Wesleyan student government obliged, voting to strip funding from the Wesleyan Argus in order to “save paper.” Rampell notes that this case is the latest example of a troubling new trend in campus PC movements:

Typically the censorship threats that student journalists face come from authority figures like these school administrators; peer-on-peer muzzling seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, said Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center.

One incident does not a trend make, but judging by this controversy, it looks like the wave of PC that caught media attention last year is still going strong; this year’s crop of college students—or at least, a critical mass of them—are seemingly just as eager to silence dissent as their predecessors. There’s no reason to think that campus politics will be any more sane for the foreseeable future. That raises concerns, not only about health of our educational institutions, but about what will happen when today’s coddled students graduate, grow up, and are expected to wield real power.

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  • wigwag

    Spare the rod, spoil the child.

  • iconoclast

    “but about what will happen when today’s coddled students graduate, grow up, and are expected to wield real power.”

    Lois Lerner and Eric Holder are two excellent examples of how these delicate flowers will act once they leave the bubble of academia.

  • Anthony

    The 30 year old Wesleyan College student and service veteran wrote a fair and reasonable essay. Bryan Stascavage was not criticizing BLM but critiquing its inability to perceive how those beyond its confines view BLM’s messaging and perhaps tactics. His censure not only ignored freedom of speech considerations (and this speech was in no way offensive – more questioning than anything else) but also revealed an unintended effect of the “civilizing process” – coddling in unwarranted life circumstances.

  • jeburke

    This is just fascistic thuggery. It’s time to stop sanitizing it by calling it “political correctness,” which sounds benign. No, it won’t stop. These campus leftists are just getting started, having cemented control of campuses like Wesleyan only in the past 15-20 years. And forget the students, who are just clueless pawns like the “students” who made up the Red goon squads during the Cultural Revolution. This all comes from leftist faculty and administrations and won’t end until forces outside academe crack down by withdrawing funds, firing people and imposing serious standards of free inquiry and discourse.

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  • mdmusterstone

    But there is a part not being addressed here. What is happening at Wesleyan is a “product”
    being offered. If there were few
    “consumers” to purchase it, things would change fast but apparently
    that is very much not the case.

    Some place or other I read that tuition is some $63K a year not
    counting all the other attendant costs.
    Multiply that by four and maybe several time if there are more children
    in the family and you have a very well to do consumer base willing to spend a
    good part of a million dollars on the Wesleyan “product”. Main
    product, for now being, Constitution be damned!

    I went to see “Bridge
    of Spies” last night and it
    struck me how difficult it is to be an American. A spy is defended by a lawyer who believes in
    the Constitution and has the integrity to defend lawful process for everyone!!! As he says, “I don’t care if you’re
    guilty, my job is to see that the state follows the law.” I’ll admit my eyes teared a little at that.

    Things become frosty at work, the CIA isn’t happy, shots are
    fired into his home. Shots fired by whom,
    not by “Americans” I strongly aver.
    is a credo nation, there is the Constitution that dictates, or maybe I should
    say invites, if you have the courage and integrity, to embrace the idea that
    the law matters for everyone, even the
    most despicable and contemptible. In so
    far as you don’t believe and support that, to my mind you are less than an

    Understood, the Constitution of United States is so
    breathtakingly radical that the temptation is always there to… well, just this

    But I think often of the line from “A Lion in
    Winter”, Thomas More speaking, “And when you have cut down all the
    laws, when the devils breath scorches the land behind what shall you

  • mdmusterstone

    Well I have to say this before we go out tonight. James Donovan was an American hero. You have to be a hero to live up to the
    Constitution. My God what other county has ever asked so much of its people?

  • gabrielsyme

    What is increasingly clear is that liberalism is a spreading infection, slowly progressing towards totalitarianism. The only long-term viable solution is to inoculate institutions against this disease. Liberalism is only tolerable as a minority interest – when it becomes dominant, it tramples on the freedoms and liberties of all those who refuse to conform. Only conservatism can exist as a dominant and tolerant ideology.

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