MY TITLE IS NOT AN AFFECTATION, or at least not entirely so. For years I have been attempting to persuade colleagues, university administrators, and students that something is going desperately wrong in modern universities. To no avail.
Readers may have a sense of the type of problem that concerns me from recent events at Yale, in which no less than 13 administrators felt compelled to compose a letter advising adult students on how to dress for Halloween. This was clearly an absurd thing to do, as was a segment of the student response to a lecturer who had the audacity to point out the absurdity in a reasoned and principled email. It was a strange situation in which students and administrators found themselves on the same side of the barricades on the question of the need for sensitivity and creating a place of comfort in the academy. Students siding with administrators against professors? Young people wanting comfort more than truth? If you’re over 50 it will seem strange indeed, but it’s not — not any more. It is the rule now, and it explains in part the trouble I’m having finding someone to talk to.