There are some ideas so stupid only a college president could endorse them. At least that’s the impression given by reading this recent nearly-three-cheer defense of trigger warnings and microaggession bans on campus penned by two college presidents.
I know, I know it must be hard to be a college president. You are running what amounts to a business and need to heed the voice of the market. And since where one stands is often a function of where one sits, I don’t doubt that these defenses are at least in part sincere.
But if you allow yourself to get stewed in the juices you will eventually be rendered into the pot. As they write “(t)hose who offer blanket indictments of calls for safer spaces and content notices would do well to sit face to face, as we have, with anguished 18-year-olds.” Well, yes. I don’t doubt they had to confront anguished 18-year olds quite a bit. But where is the perspective and–dare I say it?–the gravity that one would expect a president to exhibit? A college president I respect once said that the most important quality needed in the job is social distance. By that he did not mean don’t fraternize with the custodians–he did regularly, and well. What he meant is that one should not blow with the wind and try to be a friend to all.
If only Colin Quinn had a Ph.D. he might make a run at a presidency somewhere.
It’s easy to make fun of weak Millennials (because it’s true), but they didn’t cause their own weakness. That was due to their helicopter parents sheltering them from the outside world and from any bad feelings within the household. If teachers didn’t shelter the students in the same way, as pseudo-parents, they would’ve been fired and replaced.
Trying to treat their thin-skinned fragility now will be too little, too late. What really needs to be done is to prevent this style of stunted development from continuing with the post-Millennial generations, simply by raising kids normally rather than abnormally (as resilient living creatures rather than porcelain dolls).
The real stumbling block there is contempo parents deriving their only meaning in life from their children’s preciousness, so that they seal the household from anything threatening to nudge the kids into a more mature and less adorable stage of life — criticism from peers, correction from authority figures, skinned knees, wage labor, whatever.
People are so cocooned these days that parents have no other place to derive meaning from. They need to get out, socialize with neighbors, join a church group, start a civic association group to pick up junk around the community, and so on and so forth. You won’t have time to worry about whether Jayden bruised his toe running around the yard barefoot, or whether Arabella got ostracized by the other girls for trying to boss them around like Her Highness.
My parents were considered more protective than most but we still went down into the woods to go skating with the rest of the kids, figuring out on our own when the ice was thick enough and stayting away from the site of the old mill where the water flowed out.