Those paying attention to the unending degradation of social cohesion and rational thought inevitably end up immersed in the fever swamps of the contemporary university. All of the idiocies currently so much a part of “higher”—as in self-evidently and at least figuratively chemically deranged—education may be traceable to a nearly complete lack of adult supervision, leadership and care for the future. An excellent example of the abdication of common sense and adult guidance is the establishment of “safe spaces.” Such tranquil preserves for the perpetually aggrieved and ever-so-sensitive are surely the epitome of self-indulgent silliness, but they are also uniquely destructive, as sociologist Frank Feredi suggests at Spiked Online:
Probably the most corrosive thing about Safe Space ideology is that it encourages the segregation and racialisation of campus life. I witnessed this firsthand during a recent visit to an American campus, where I was greeted by the sight of students racially and ethnically segregated from one another while they were eating lunch. When I pointed out that the practice of segregated cafeteria tables violated the spirit of the academy, my host told me, ‘it’s their choice to find their own space’.
Unfortunately, university authorities tend to condone this kind of voluntary segregation. For example, Morton Schapiro, the president of Northwestern University, has said that it is understandable that black students eating in a cafeteria would not want white undergraduates to join them. ‘We all deserve Safe Spaces’, he wrote, and ‘black students had every right to enjoy their lunches in peace’. Schapiro’s apology for Safe Space segregation is based on the proposition that everyone should be able to go somewhere where they will be protected from being made uncomfortable by other kinds of people. In others words, the advocacy of Safe Spaces has meshed with the idea that those from minority cultures need to be able to cultivate their identities free from the presence of people who are not like them.
I always enjoy the differences in the spellings of British and American English. The old maxim that the English and Americans are two peoples separated by a common language is evergreen. I somehow suspect the segregation Feredi observed was not initiated or demanded by white students. President Schapiro seems unable to understand that while it is perfectly acceptable for people of any race to decide with whom they wish to eat or converse, the establishment of formal “safe,” racially or sexually segregated “spaces,” is inherently divisive and is a repudiation of the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement. Schapiro also seems unable to understand that there is no such thing as a right never to be uncomfortable, and by enabling such nonsense, all but guarantees his eventual (possible) graduates will be poorly equipped to deal with the real world. He also contributes to the degradation of a convivial and cooperative civilization, instead encouraging tribalism, racial suspicion and hatred.
In recent months, many American universities have acquiesced to a form of self-segregation, and have provided racially segregated housing for their black students. Not that they put it in those terms. California State University in Los Angeles, for instance, takes exception to the claim made by critics that it offers racially segregated housing. Instead, it describes its new scheme as a ‘new black living-learning community’. On its housing-services page, CalState says that it is an initiative designed to ‘enhance the residential experience for students who are part of, or interested in, issues of concern to the black community living on campus, by offering the opportunity to connect with faculty and peers’. Whatever euphemisms CalState chooses to describe its ‘new black living-learning community’, it is clear that its aim is not to enhance a common campus experience and culture.
This is a logical extension of the establishment of racial and sexual orientation “studies” classes and entire departments. A growing number of universities feature actual degrees in this or that “studies,” which uncritically exalt the self and favored victim groups. It was only a matter of time before the same institutions would began voluntarily segregating students and faculty into warring factions fiercely determined to be as insular and self-contained as possible. When such tribal “cultures” are not only allowed, but given official status, the very purpose of a liberal arts education is abandoned.
If academics can demand the exclusion of peers who do not possess the right identity, why can’t students do the same? In April 2015, University College London’s students’ union posted a statement on its website supporting Goldsmiths Students’ Union decision to exclude men and white people from meetings about anti-racist campaigns:
‘Self-defining spaces are so important because the reality is it is not possible to have discussions that need to be had with your oppressors in the room – even if they are saying nothing. BME [black and minority ethnic] students are used to going through life facing microaggressions – sometimes to the point where they don’t even notice it anymore until someone like them tells them horror stories of their experiences’.
Such groups descend first to farce: members of the protected tribe cannot adequately recognize their own oppression and must be informed by more enlightened and sensitive tribal special snowflakes of the horrors they face. Thus do we come full circle. These are the barbarians at the gates, people who protest and ultimately destroy the very society that makes their protests and protected, pampered existence—and exalted separation—possible:
In the bizarre world of students’ union politics, any group can face a call to be excluded from another’s space. In March this year, the National Union of Students’ LGBT campaign group passed a resolution calling for the abolition of representatives for gay men. According to supporters of this motion, white gay men are almost as privileged as white heterosexual men. The campaign also suggested that gay men have become accomplices in the oppression of others, stating that ‘misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia are often present in LGBT+ societies’, and that such acts of oppression are ‘more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white, cis gay men’.
Thus do the oh-so-special cracktivists devour their own. The divisions become ever more minute, queerer than thou, until the earlier, first protestors become the protested, excluded from the self-important virtue they initially created by separating themselves from mundane reality.
It is clear that the attraction of Safe Spaces for some individuals is that they quarantine them from the ideas and questions of people who are not like them. Sadly, the consequence of this demand is that it encourages the segmentation of university life.
Calls for segregated Safe Spaces are the logical outcome of a student movement that attaches a fundamental significance to the validation of personal identity. This cultivation of identity has encouraged the psychic distancing of people to the point where some students demand to be allowed to share spaces only with those with whom they identify.
That’s bad news for a democratic society.
What is the purpose of a college education? Does one attend college any longer merely to obtain a liberal arts education? To be stretched beyond one’s intellect and experiences at the age of 18? To open the mind to new, unfamiliar people, ideas and experiences? Is a college degree a certain ticket to a good job and a career? Or are colleges turning themselves into self-esteem factories, turning out, after seven or more years for an undergraduate degree, special snowflakes whose knowledge and understanding are, if anything, less broad than the day they first set foot on campus? And where do these self-absorbed segregationists find the time to focus their energy and intellects—such as they are—on this sort of navel gazing? How is it their universities not only allow them to ignore such trivia as class attendance and assignments, but polite, adult behavior? Apparently as long as the tuition checks cash, anything goes. The patients are running the asylum.
There is substantial evidence that outside specialized career fields in education, medicine, law, or the sciences, etc., all requiring at least an undergraduate degree for admission to their respective professions, a college degree no longer guarantees employment or a living wage, as a great many graduates of “studies” degree programs are discovering.
However, the “bad news” about which Feredi speaks is more disturbing yet.
Far too many universities are graduating adolescents in adult bodies, people with meaningless degrees in “I’m so important” studies. These special snowflakes have no marketable abilities, little ability to get along with others, little ability to adapt to change, and no specialized knowledge, save an unquenchable belief in their own superiority, entitlement, and their absolute right to perpetual grievance and the goods and wealth of others.
Adding in the new, but inevitable, wrinkle of state-sanctioned racial, sexual, and God-knows-what-else, segregation adds a distinctly dangerous element to an already destructive recipe. A new generation of the supposed best and brightest, of those who, by virtue of their intellects, abilities, foresight, altruism and public spirit are supposed to be the leaders, builders, designers, teachers, the people that make our culture work, are instead racist malcontents, eternally at war with the very people and culture that built the universities, the roads, bridges, and culture that allows them to denigrate and deconstruct it.
Interesting, isn’t it, gentle readers, what tolerance and diversity have wrought?
Where will western civilization be when such people demand respect and sustenance from an ever-decreasing, ever-ageing pool of an altruistic, hard working middle class that knows how to design, build and maintain modernity, and live and work with others, judging them by the content of their character? How will people who have no idea how to design and manufacture a toaster fare when their segregationist, racist, self-imagined perfection cannot produce a roll of toilet paper, let alone a black, LGBTQWERY, fill-in-the-blank utopia?
Not far from the gates wait barbarians armed with modern weapons they cannot design, maintain or produce. I suspect our home-grown, university educated special snowflakes will last about as long as a snowflake in Hell.