Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Head down and mouth shut

We're starting another round of college visits, this time for my daughter. We were at St. Olaf yesterday for an event. The St. Olaf campus was positively glistening under the coat of cosmetic snow that had fallen overnight. The campus itself is a remarkable setting, high on a hilltop overlooking Northfield, with tremendous views of the town and the surrounding farmland. The presentations we attended showcased intelligent, well-spoken people saying intelligent things. The student who led our tour was especially impressive. It was an exciting day.

Yet it appears St. Olaf has the same issue that seems so prevalent on college campuses -- tolerance in form, but not in fact:
“My parents, before I came, said ‘keep your head down and don’t talk about politics,’” Josh Larson ’20 said about his first year at St. Olaf as a conservative student. He’s taken his parents’ advice to heart, and so have many of his conservative peers. Of the 12 students interviewed by the Manitou Messenger, several have been violently threatened because of their political beliefs, and almost all of them feel as though they can’t speak up about politics on campus – in class, online or with their friends.
So begins the story, from the Manitou Messenger, the St. Olaf student newspaper. And there's more:
The 2016 general election and following inauguration brought politics to the forefront of student conversations. The St. Olaf College Republicans never endorsed Trump – the club’s window display explaining its position was torn down three times last spring – but club president Emily Schaller ’17 received pushback from both pro-Trump and anti-Trump groups. A Gustavus student on the board for Minnesota College Republicans pressured the group to canvass and phone bank for Trump throughout last summer and into fall. In late September, Schaller filed a no-contact order against the student.

Many conservative students felt that the campus became more hostile during election season, and some students received violent threats. On the night of the election, a student in the Pause threatened to beat up Schaller, calling her a “f***ing moron.” Over the next couple of days, she overheard multiple students threaten to hurt the next conservative or Republican they saw. Vice President of St. Olaf College Republicans Kathryn Hinderaker ’19 had a similar experience.

“I think one of the hardest things was, the second day, I went into Buntrock and someone yelled from the bottom, ‘if you voted for Trump, you better be f***ing scared.’ Everyone clapped and applauded,” Hinderaker said. “Obviously, it didn’t feel super safe.” 
If the Hinderaker name seems familiar, it is because she is the daughter of John Hinderaker, the well known Powerline blogger who now helms the Center of the American Experiment. But what is most chilling -- once you are identified, you stay identified. Back to the Messenger article, detailing the experience of a student named Katie Ivance:
“People were saying [things] like ‘F-you’ and ‘I wish you were dead,’” she said. Ivance isn’t the only one who has faced harassment online due to political beliefs. On Feb. 18, a student posted an unsolicited photo of a group of students that supposedly included Trump supporters and encouraged fellow students to “remember their faces.”

Ivance transferred to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities after the fall semester, citing harassment as her primary reason for transferring.

“I didn’t want to keep myself in that situation,” she said. “I didn’t know how long it would last.”
The personal is political, we are told. Apparently so. We will be visiting more campuses as the year goes on. I would not be surprised if the situation is similar elsewhere.

15 comments:

jerrye92002 said...

I hope you find a location where the offering includes a higher education. It does not sound as if you have found one yet.

Gino said...

there's always Liberty University. or one of the few remaining truly Catholic institutions.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

The other day my brother posted on FB that he thought Trump was unhinged and that anybody who couldn't see it was incomprehensible to him. I attempted to clarify, "Do you mean mentally ill in a clinical sense." Yes.

There is massive cognitive dissonance in our country. Colleges and universities are convinced that they are all about free speech and an open society. St. Olaf is a home to Kierkegaard, not Nietzsche, but one may be forgiven for being confused in this matter.

So does one attempt to live in the midst of a growing evil that insists that is good? Sure, if one cares to be a prophet, a witness to the truth. Or if one is comfortable with a kind of principled, monastic silence. But there is suffering either way. That's a lot to consider for a freshman.

Bike Bubba said...

My niece is a freshman at the second best Big Ten university in the "Mitten", and her roommate moved out because my niece wouldn't protest Trump. The roommate, an Asian-American girl whose parents are wealthy enough to afford out of state tuition in Ann Arbor, proceeded to describe my niece's problem as "white privilege." Now my step-brother is not poor by any means, but the notion that my niece has privilege, but her roommate does not, is just strange.

Mr. D said...

We're on the road next week. Four more schools. We'll see what we learn.

R.A. Crankbait said...

Consider Hillsdale. Here's a good write-up from, of all places, the New York Times.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/education/edlife/hillsdale-college-great-books-constitution-conservatives.html?_r=0

Mr. D said...

I like Hillsdale. They are doing good work there.

Bike Bubba said...

It strikes me that you could put a dagger through the heart of politicized education if you had a required freshman seminar on basic logical fallacies, as well as two basic policies; students are welcome to record their professors' lectures, and a policy that professors who indulge these fallacies will have that marked negatively on their tenure reviews.

I am of course dreaming, or possibly smoking something good, to believe that this would happen any place besides Hillsdale or comparable schools, but hey, a man can dream, can't he?

Gino said...

What is Maria's course of study going to be?

Mr. D said...

What is Maria's course of study going to be?

Don't know that yet. She could go a number of different directions.

R.A. Crankbait said...

A couple of years at Hillsdale, getting her basic credits and learning "conservative apologetics" could serve her very well should she transfer, if necessary, to a more specialized college for her major.

Gino said...

Just send her Knox so her brother can watch over her...

Mr. D said...

Just send her Knox so her brother can watch over her...

Her brother will be gone -- he graduates from college next year and she graduates from high school next year.

Gino said...

Damn kids are getting old... Where'd the time go?

jerrye92002 said...

Yes, and try explaining a "typewriter" or a "record player" to one of them. You will REALLY feel old.