A few months ago, students at the ultra-liberal Oberlin College published a list of 50 “non-negotiable” demands that they submitted to the school’s administration.Among the demands were that the school suspend all grades below a C so that students could focus on their political activism instead of their schoolwork.
The New Yorker interviewed a number of students and faculty members from Oberlin in “The Big Uneasy,” and succeeded in capturing how militant many of the student activists at Oberlin are.
Below are the most shocking pieces from the article:
1.) Students submitted “non-negotiable” demands to the school. “In mid-December, a group of black students wrote a fourteen-page letter to the school’s board and president outlining fifty nonnegotiable demands for changes in Oberlin’s admissions and personnel policies, academic offerings, and the like.” How on earth are these demands “non-negotiable”? What will happen if the school refuses to follow them — the students who wrote the demands drop out, and the school continues to function as normal?
2.) The students claim that all American institutions operate in the context of a “heteropatriarchy.” “When in fact this institution functions on the premises of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy.” You know, “cissexist heteropatriarchy” is kind of catchy, don’t you think?
3.) The demands “included a request for an $8.20-an-hour activism wage, the firing of nine Oberlin employees deemed insufficiently supportive of black students, and the tenuring of black faculty.” These students wanted to be paid for their activist activities, even those that were not endorsed by the Oberlin administration.
4.) A student wanted trigger warnings on required reading. The book was “Antigone.” The student activist likened trigger warnings to food labels, and claimed, “People should have the right to know and consent to what they’re putting into their minds, just as they have the right to know and consent to what they’re putting into their bodies.” Because all eighteen-year-olds have the world figured out already, and do not need to be exposed to new, uncomfortable, and even upsetting ideas, right?
6.) They wanted the removal of a “harmful” multicultural mural. The former chair of the Student Union Board reports that students ordered a mural featuring people of a number of different races destroyed because they feared that it “exoticized” minorities. “They were saying, ‘Students are being harmed. Just do something now.'”
7.) A Jewish student was told he cannot have certain opinions because his “culture has never been oppressed.” After he criticized a sexual harassment policy that would have classified “flirtatious speech” as harassment, Aaron Pressman reported, “A student came up to me several days later and started screaming at me, saying I’m not allowed to have this opinion, because I’m a white cisgender male.” He feels that his white maleness shouldn’t be disqualifying. “I’ve had people respond to me, ‘You could never understand — your culture has never been oppressed.'” Pressman laughed. “I’m, like, ‘Really? The Holocaust?'”
8.) This student leader is “tired” of listening to dissenting opinions. “I do think that there’s something to be said about exposing yourself to ideas other than your own, but I’ve had enough of that after my fifth year,” she said.
9.) Students wanted to eliminate bad grades. “More than thirteen hundred students signed a petition calling for the college to eliminate any grade lower than a C for the semester, but to no avail.”
10.) A professor reportedly posted anti-Semitic messages on Facebook. “[Her] posts suggested, among other things, that Zionists had been involved in the 9/11 plot, that Isis was a puppet of Mossad and the C.I.A., and that the Rothschild family owned “your news, the media, your oil, and your government.” She wasn’t terminated.
11.) They hate capitalism at Oberlin. A student leader interviewed stated that higher education is a “tool of capitalism” that “can’t be redeemed,” even though capitalism is closely associated with the kind of free speech that allows students to become activists in the first place. Meanwhile, socialist and Communist countries — think Mao’s China and Lenin’s Russia — frequently throw dissenters in jail, although many of these students may not even know this, given how open they seem to learning new things.