Did anyone else see this article from the Wall Street Journal last night: “The Campus Mob Came for Me, and You, Professor, Could Be Next?” Some flava:
Racially charged, anarchic protests have engulfed Evergreen State College, a small, public liberal-arts institution where I have taught since 2003. In a widely disseminated video of the first recent protest on May 23, an angry mob of about 50 students disrupted my class, called me a racist, and demanded that I resign. My “racist” offense? I had challenged coercive segregation by race. Specifically, I had objected to a planned “Day of Absence” in which white people were asked to leave campus on April 12.
In March I objected in an email to all staff and faculty. “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles . . . and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away,” I wrote. “On a college campus, one’s right to speak—or to be—must never be based on skin color.”
My email was published by the student newspaper, and Day of Absence came and went almost without incident. The protest of my class emerged seemingly out of the blue more than a month later. Evergreen has slipped into madness. You don’t need the news to tell you that—the protesters’ own videos will do. But those clips reveal neither the path that led to this psychosis, nor the cautionary nature of the tale for other campuses.
I have some thoughts, but I would love to hear from people with knowledge about what is going on at Evergreen State College this year. Aside from the whole notion of white people not having enough access to campus space (which is officially NOT A THING), His account of persecution doesn’t seem to add up: first he says it’s “psychosis” among the students (so it’s a bottom-up problem?), then later in the op-ed he blames a new president (more of a top-down leadership issue?) for “reducing professorial autonomy, increasing the size of his administration, and breaking apart Evergreen’s full-time programs. But the faculty, which plays a central role in the college’s governance, would never have agreed to these changes.”
How did the new president make his evil scheme happen, when the author then admits that “most of my colleagues” went along with the new program–those colleagues he said just a few paragraphs earlier “would never have agreed to these changes.” The author also gets hip-deep into WSJ buzzword territory, blaming the new president for “arming the [dun-dun-DUN] postmoderns.” (With what are they armed? Rhetorical brickbats, or howitzers, or weaponized smallpox? Real guns & ammo? Is that how they got “most of [his] colleagues” to vote their militant postmodern way?) The rosetta stone to all of this is this document, which looks pretty anodyne but maybe I’m just a postmodern relativist Foucaultian-type.
The bottom line is that the vicious attacks at Middlebury College are too old to flog any longer even on the editorial page of the WSJ, so the always-vigilant Wall Street Journal editorial board is on the lookout for ideological persecution on the nation’s most precious college campuses. If you know anyone there, or if you ARE anyone at Evergreen State, please email me at my Colorado State University email (or my blog email address–your choice) and fill me in. If I figure out something else to say, I’ll say it tomorrow, or sometime this week. Laters!