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campus unrest
Surprise: Appeasement Isn’t Working

A common response of publicity-conscious university presidents to the social justice protests rocking their campuses these days is to apologize to the protesters and capitulate to the majority of their demands (which often seem to involve spending huge sums of money on the protesters’ favored programs). President Christina H. Paxson of Brown University, for example, has promised to spend $100 million on, among other things, promoting “university-wide research and academic programming on Power, Privilege, Identity and Structural Racism” and creating workshops to “foster greater awareness and sensitivity on issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

Two weeks ago, we expressed skepticism that this approach would be effective. “It’s only a matter of time,” we wrote, “before protesters take to the quad with megaphones again, protesting that administrators are trying to buy them off without addressing any of the real underlying issues.” It turns out that it didn’t take that much time at all. According to Emily Shire’s latest dispatch from Brown in the Daily Beast, students are already up in arms, insisting that Paxson’s $100 million dollar plan is not enough:

Despite allocating an impressive amount of financial and academic resources to promoting identity diversity, [the plan] has failed to quell the tide of student anger at Brown.

A group of protesting students declared Dec. 3 “Day of Reclamation.”

The Facebook group for the Day of Reclamation reveals a strong hostility to white voices and a desire to restrict their ability to share opinions.

“This is NOT a space for white students to be offering their opinions or the ‘issues’ they take with the consolidated, working list of demands,” one Brown University student posted. “People have been building on them for months and have very specific reasons for their asks, but it will never be your place to criticize them.”

The Facebook group also includes a video of students interrupting and shouting at Paxson during the Day of Reclamation.
Shire also quotes some revelatory remarks from a Brown professor who expected that Paxson’s plan would mollify the radical students:

The seeming increase in outrage is the opposite of what the professor expected, having read the plan as incredibly generous to student demands.

“I badly misread the situation,” he said. “The lack of respect for the president, the provost, and the people trying to do what they can here, I’m sort of stunned by it. I thought the draft plan would quell the anger, and it’s sort of like they doubled-down.”

Campus administrations and faculty are overwhelmingly sympathetic to leftwing causes, and they desperately want to find a way to be on the protesters’ side. But as they are now starting to find out, this is very likely impossible. The campus left sees capitulation not as a sign of solidarity, but as a sign of weakness and disrespect. And, of course, they’re not entirely wrong, in a way. If administrators had real moral spine—and if they truly respected their students—they would stand up to, rather than indulge, the illiberalism engulfing their institutions.

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  • Boritz

    “Don’t I buy everything you want?”

    Jim Backus to James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

  • Beauceron

    Why wouldn’t they double down?
    They have been handed everything they want without a fight, so they figure they can get more. The problem here is that the university looks at these students and sees legitimate complaints from legitimately victimized students rather than what is really going on: a hustle. If you’re a black student at Brown, just arriving there likely means you’ve reaped the benefits of racial privilege. The majority of black students at Brown would not be there if they were not black. That is a fact, and it’s a fact at Brown and Yale and Princeton and Columbia, too. Once you get there, you have access to groups and funds and events that are not available to white students. Of course they want more of that. It’s hard to blame the students– young people want to be given things. And acting like spoiled, juvenile idiots is something that a lot of young kids do. It’s the professors and administrators that should be held to task.

    • theresanursemom

      Reminds me of Iran’s actions after our supposed nuclear deal with them.

  • Anthony

    Neither intimately attuned to nor cognitively aware of on-goings at U.S collegiate campuses (though I live in walking proximity of one of nation’s most prestigious), charges of illiberalism, capitulation, mollifying, etc. appear less informative than accusatory and agenda driven objectively considered – what’s really behind anguished (exasperated) analysis.

  • Dale Fayda

    All liberals are worthless, gutless turds. This applies equally to Angela Merkel, to the President of Brown and to every other self-identified “progressive”. Being a liberal is the most gutless choice one can make in life and these people have made it. Everything that follows is just details.

  • dfooter

    Yeah, shocking that giving into bullies only increases their demands.

  • Blackbeard

    Liberal universities versus petulant leftist students. I feel like Henry Kissinger when he commented on the Iraq/Iran war: “Too bad both sides can’t lose.”

  • Fat_Man

    We can only hope that this fiasco so thoroughly discredits the universities, that we can easily defund them.

  • Jim__L

    ” If administrators had real moral spine—and if they truly respected
    their students—they would stand up to, rather than indulge, the
    illiberalism engulfing their institutions.”

    But the lunatics have been running the asylum for a long time now. I’m not convinced that the administrators disagree with these students.

    The whole system is rotten to the core. Time for a housecleaning.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Burn the asylum to the ground, preferably with the inmates locked inside.
      Leave the smouldering ruins as a warning for the next group.

  • golfcrackerjack

    Same as: “Sell” my kids a beer distributorship and I won’t mount a boycott of beer retailers. (Jesse Jackson circa 1993.)

  • CapitalHawk

    The emphasis on immutable characteristics by leftists continues. The emphasis on excluding whites by leftists continues. I wonder, do you think the exclusion of blacks in the Jim Crow south led them to self identify as “black” before anything else? Do we really want whites to start to start to self identify as “white” before anything else? We’ve been down that path before. It is a very bloody path.

  • theresanursemom

    “The campus left sees capitulation not as a sign of solidarity, but as a sign of weakness and disrespect.”…..Sun Tzu strikes again!

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