Recent events on college campuses around the country show that “political correctness” culture has gone far too far, and administrators are doing a disservice to their students by reinforcing the idea that colleges should be a place with no disagreements or conflicting opinions.
Last month, Bowdoin College came under scrutiny when it was revealed that the school would be punishing students who attended a “tequila” themed birthday party in February. The offense? Not underage drinking or drinking in a dorm room, but some of the students committed the “crime” of wearing a tiny sombrero in some of the pictures, which was considered to be an “act of ethnic stereotyping.”
The hosts of the party were initially placed on social probation, removed from their dorm rooms, and members of Bowdoin’s student government who attended the party were facing impeachment. The threats of impeachment were eventually rescinded, but the whole scenario is still absurd–especially in light of the fact that a school-sanctioned “Cold War” party was taking place at the same time as the tequila-themed bash.
(For those keeping score at home: wearing sombreros and drinking one of the most popular alcohols sold in the state: not okay, and you are a bad person who needs to be punished. Dressing in fur, drinking vodka, referring to yourself as Stalin, and appropriating the dress and customs of nation during a time period where ethnic minorities were killed and imprisoned: totally fine, and it’s one of the best parties on campus.)
Meanwhile, at Emory University in Atlanta, someone wrote “TRUMP 2016” around campus using chalk. “Chalking” is a common way at many colleges and universities to advertise events or spread messages. At Emory, the fact that someone wrote the name of the Republican frontrunner for president on campus sent students and administrators into a full-blown panic. Counseling was offered to students who felt they were triggered by seeing the drawings.
In response to the hysterical reactions to chalk drawings at Emory, there was a nationwide effort on April Fools’ Day to chalk variations of “Trump 2016” on college campuses as a way to “make trolling great again.” Dubbed “#TheChalkening,” students at dozens of universities took part as a subtle way of saying “screw you” to hypersensitive college administrations. It’s about time.
It’s not good policy to promote the idea that college should be a happy, fun, “safe space” against any kind of conflict. Conflicts happen in the real world. The real world isn’t a bubble where counseling is readily available if “questionable” graffiti suddenly appears. People in the real world have differing, equally-valid, opinions–and if a person doesn’t know how to appropriately handle disagreements or cope with seeing things they deem offensive, they’re doomed.
The world is becoming increasingly partisan, and it’s relatively easy to block out everyone who doesn’t share your opinion. Part of the job of a college or university–especially top-ranked schools like Bowdoin and Emory–should be to adequately prepare students to enter the workforce as mature, productive adults. That’s not possible if we’re going to have rallies and counseling over tiny sombreros and chalk.