UConn's PC hysteria invites a nervous breakdown
Congratulations to the University of Connecticut for letting someone of conservative views express himself on campus this week without being assaulted or shouted down by students and state employees.
But a memorandum from a university official warning students about the visit by the conservative speaker showed how UConn is still coddling if not encouraging the fascist instincts that dominate higher education. The memorandum was sent by email two weeks ahead of the event by UConn's "chief diversity officer," Joelle Murchison. It was delivered to students involved with campus "cultural centers."
Murchison wrote: "There has been a request received for Ben Shapiro to come to campus as the guest of the College Republicans. Shapiro is an American conservative political commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, and lawyer. ... We understand that even the thought of an individual coming to campus with the views that Mr. Shapiro expresses can be concerning and even hurtful and that's why we wanted to make you aware as soon as we were informed. In the meantime, please utilize the many campus resources available to you should you want to talk through your feelings about this issue, including my office, the cultural centers, the dean of students office, and CMHS, if necessary."
CMHS is "counseling and mental health services."
So exactly what opinions held by "an American conservative political commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, and lawyer" might be expected to cause UConn students affiliated with the "cultural centers" to have nervous breakdowns?
Murchison didn't explain why Shapiro's views are so odious, nor why some students needed a special warning about his appearance. After all, no one was to be required to listen to him. Except for the university's own hysteria about a talk by a conservative, hardly anyone on or off campus might have known that Shapiro was coming. While he is not a rock star, presenting someone as a potential cause of an epidemic of mental illness might turn anyone into a sensation.
Murchison seems to have believed that the danger posed by Shapiro's appearance was self-evident — the danger that students might stumble upon contrary opinion in the vicinity of what she and they presume to be a politically safe space.
In an open letter this week, a history professor at Central Connecticut State University, Jay Bergman, a critic of the political correctness that infects higher education, scolded UConn President Susan Herbst about it. "UConn should not be authorizing therapy, coloring books, or cocoa to tend to these snowflakes," Bergman wrote, adding that in protecting students from political disagreement, UConn is "infantilizing" them. "Students go to college to be challenged, not coddled."
Indeed, with her warning to students about Shapiro, Murchison tended to confirm the premise of one of his books, "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth."
Lamenting and warning students against political disagreement and protecting them against it is the opposite of the diversity that matters most, diversity of thought. It is little more than babysitting, yet the annual salary of UConn's "chief diversity officer" is $223,000, $73,000 more than Connecticut pays its governor, not that he ever notices any of the university's expensive ironies and absurdities.
Such extravagance in the pursuit of political correctness might give taxpayers a nervous breakdown.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.
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