Not that I’m supportive of “safe spaces” and this movement to ban the freedom of speech on college campuses lest someone prick the precious sensibilities of our future generation of leaders such that they need to color and pet puppies to regain a semblance of composure, but there’s a certain part of me that can at least understand why a generation raised on participation trophies and “self esteem training” might have tough time being in an environment that challenges their carefully curated presumptions about the world. But then they go and complain about sidewalk chalk and every shred of sympathy I might have had diminishes as quick as their allowance account in the sale section of an Urban Outfitters.
Lest you think that was merely an extreme example, according to a story drifting across social media this week, students at Emory University (not exactly a D-list school), complained to their administration this week because they felt unsafe, after an anonymous classmate (or a local) scrawled ‘Trump 2016’ on a university sidewalk in chalk.
Students woke up Monday morning to find messages written in chalk all over campus, in support of Donald Trump. That afternoon, a group of 40 to 50 students protested. According to the student newspaper, the Emory Wheel, they shouted in the quad, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” and then students moved into the administration building calling out, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Jim Wagner, the president of the university in Atlanta, met with the protesters and later sent an email to the campus community, explaining, in part, “During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.
“After meeting with our students, I cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity. Instead, the students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.”
Frankly, I’m pretty sure that Karl Marx, who coined the term ” we have nothing to lose but our chains” would think these students a bunch of wusses, as the dastardly ‘chalkings’ (which, of course, are easily removed with a garden hose), caused mass hysteria across the campus, embroiling students, faculty and administration in a week-long ordeal that included a number of protests, open letters and pleas to “stand firm” against such a “cowardly” atrocity as “defacing campus property” by writing nearly illegibly in a temporary medium on a set of washable concrete stairs. According to the students’ response, it is, of course, a “privilege” to see the chalk as merely a joke and not an overt threat to their safety and security. The administration responsed by calling the protesting students “courageous” for their “inquiry.”
Sensing the students’ fear, the administration called for an “open dialouge” to discuss how people were hurt by such an act, apparently, never taking into consideration that the act might have been committed not by a Trump loyalist, but by someone who wanted to goad his or her fellow classmates into rending their garments and tearing out their hair over easily removed Kindergarten art. I mean, not that I would ever do anything like that, but you have to admit…