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November 30 2016

Stop Creating Campus Bubbles

Forbes
Karin Agness

Saturday Night Live’s recent sketch, The Bubble, offered hope for Americans depressed about the election—“What if there was a place where the unthinkable didn’t happen and life could continue for progressive Americans just as before?,” SNL asked in the fictitious advertisement for a “planned community of like-minded free-thinkers and no one else” opening in January 2017.

SNL deserves credit for poking a little fun at its loyal fan-base, which includes many would-be residents of “The Bubble.” Some Americans don’t have to wait to live in bubbles. They are already living on college campuses.

After Republican candidate Donald Trump won the presidential election, American colleges treated students as if their bubble had just been burst. For many, it had.

Students across the country expressed their sadness, anger and a whole host of other emotions. Many campuses responded by coddling students. Consider the following examples from the Ivy League.

Some students begged for exams and assignments to be postponed or canceled and some faculty obliged.

At Yale University, a professor made his Econ 115 exam optional in response to desperate pleas from students who were “in shock over the election returns.”

Harvard history lecturer Brett Flehinger, currently leading a course titled, “American Populisms: Thomas Jefferson to the Tea Party + Trump,” said he “knew right away that he would be unable to teach” the class as usual after Trump won. He said, “People were emotionally not in a position to learn” and “Students were pretty emotionally knocked down,” according to The Harvard Crimson.

The Engineering Student Council President at Columbia called for an extension on assignments and exams within the School of Engineering and Applied Science, “given that the elections results have left people feeling triggered, anxious, and unwell,” according to the Columbia Spectator.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that University of Pennsylvania Professor Sarah Jane McCaffery offered a makeup date for her Management 104 midterm exam, writing “I have heard from an unusual number of students this morning that they are unwell. Seems like there’s something going around….I am not a health professional and feel ill equipped to judge who is and who is not well enough to take the midterm today.”

Other students planned public demonstrations.

The day after Trump won the election, Cornellians held a “cry in” to “mourn.” The Cornell Daily Sun reports that students, “sat in a circle to share stories and console each other, organizers encouraging attendees to gather closer together and ‘include each other.’” Students could pick up tissues and hot chocolate. Also, they had the chance to sign posters in protest.

Brown University students staged a walkout, during which they held signs, such as “Declare Brown a Sanctuary Campus,” and delivered a list of demands to the office of the Brown president.

At Dartmouth, students joined a sit-in on campus that served as the starting point for a “walk for love and justice.”

Still other students retreated to safe spaces.

At Princeton University, while some students were protesting, others gathered, “not to seek solutions, but to provide an opportunity to be vulnerable and to freely express feelings of anger and confusion.”

One dorm at the University of Pennsylvania set up a “breathing space” with cats, a puppy, coloring and snacks, so students could “decompress in a low-key and low-stress environment,” according to The Statesman.

The post-election reaction at universities across the country, including some of our top universities, is teaching students the wrong lessons about how to live with people who think differently, overcome obstacles and deal with defeat.

Having your candidate lose is tough. Every American who has been loyal to one party over the last decade has experienced this. Many have gone through a range of emotions on election night and then returned to their jobs and lived their lives as usual the next day. Employees don’t get deadlines pushed back or work canceled when their candidate loses an election.

Our universities are doing students a disservice by coddling them. They won’t be prepared for post-graduation life. Or worse, they will demand that their world after college be transformed into a new bubble.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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