Ridding the Campus of the Social Justice Pox

All across American universities the Social Justice Warriors (SJW) are on the march demanding increased black faculty, more black undergraduates, various buildings re-named, more public lectures on race, class and gender, the immediate firing of those who give offense plus various Stalinist measures to purge campuses of anything antithetical to their anti-intellectual agenda (for example, see here). And these lists grow longer by the day and, sad to say, university administrators can’t wait to surrender

Can we rid the campus of these misguided fools? Are we condemned to an academic life where free and open discussion is subordinated to creating “safe spaces,” trigger warnings, and formal channel to report professors who accidently hurt somebody's feelings?   

The situation initially appears bleak. Forget about stiffening the administrative spines -- these apparatchiki were chosen by virtue of their cowardice and lack any incentive to expel, let alone arrest, disruptors. Similarly useless is reasoning with these fools. That a non-negotiable demand is impractical, too expensive or illegal hardly settles the matter in this quest for a Utopian fantasy.

More successful will be indirect, under-the radar solutions and there is cause for optimism. Begin by reducing the admission of academically struggling minority students whose paper-thin skin makes them ever so touchy to the slightest hint of micro-aggression, racism, discrimination, white privilege and anything else that will galvanize them into marching and shouting. Not all that difficult and, truth be told, a more restrictive admission policy will benefit many black students whose academic record suggests that they would fare better in non-elite schools.

First, stop the admissions office from surreptitiously violating various court degrees and the 1964 Civil Rights Act by using subterfuges like “holistic” evaluations, extra credit for community engagement or automatically admitting students in the top rank of truly dreadful high schools. The nice thing about following the law is that cowardly administrators can always blame judges or federal statues for this “unfortunate” policy.

Second, if having a certain number of blacks on campus is a politically imperative, recruit more black students from Africa and the Caribbean who are better motivated and certainly prefer attending classes versus occupying the President’s office. Indeed, this under-the-radar strategy is already occurring. A 2007 study covered by the Washington Post found that a quarter of black students admitted to elite colleges were African immigrants, though they only represented 13 percent of America's college-age black population (also see here). Data from the Institute of International Education reveal that there were about 33,500 students from sub-Sahara Africa and another 10,500 students from the Caribbean on campus during the 2014/15 school year.

This recruitment plan would also lower enrollments in grievance-breeding fields such as Black Studies. Hard to picture an Electrical Engineering major from Ghana squandering the opportunity of a lifetime obsessing over how universities name buildings.     

What about the little Stalinist snowflakes and buttercups who insist that they cannot learn unless instruction is thoroughly cleansed of anything associated with the white, oppressive, capitalist patriarchy and that the school’s primary educational mission is to expand diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion? Let me suggest that the best antidote for this fantasy is to let them spend their junior year (or more) in an academic setting that resembles this daydream so they can see for themselves. Just create an office called “Multicultural and Diverse Educational Experiences” so these diversity obsessed youngsters can be shipped out to experience the real thing.

Particularly convenient would be a year at one of the 107 historically black universities and college (HBCU) founded after the Civil War to educate freed African Americans. Currently, 83 offer BA’s and undergraduate student exchange programs would quickly thin out the SJW herd at elite “white” schools. An added allure is that the SJW’s would pay full tuition at their home school (typically $50,000 and up) and this would be transferred to the HBCU, a huge financial windfall for these financially struggling institutions. In short, a perfect win-win solution -- the rich white kids get an intense multicultural exposure all the while helping to keep solvent schools serving communities of color.  

Better yet, how about a junior years at one of several hundred universities in sub-Sahara Africa? Not all that difficult since many use English as the instructional language and these universities would be delighted to receive the hefty tuition that would otherwise be paid to Dartmouth or Yale. No doubt, those American students who feel stifled by the hyper-white Ivy League would academically thrive at, say, the University of Lagos in Lagos, Nigeria that offers numerous academic programs in a highly diverse setting. Residing in Nigeria and other post-colonial African nations is surely the perfect escape from the evils of white-dominated Western civilization.   

But, of all the potential remedies for this SJW pox would be to make students work harder. It is an open secret that at least in the social sciences and humanities the academic workload is a tiny fraction of what it was fifty years ago. This situation is further exacerbated by grade inflation -- you can now earn easy “B” for doing half or less than what your parents had to do. It is no wonder, then, that this free time facilitates waging senseless battles for social justice. As the old adage goes, “Idle hands are the Devil’s Workshop.”

Not all that difficult to achieve. Self-interest, not administrative directives, will do the trick. Remember, professors are often the target of these social justice warriors thanks to an off-hand “insulting” remark, raising a purportedly hateful topic such as black-on-white crime, failing to include sufficient numbers of minorities and the disabled in the course syllabus, criticizing the views of any stigmatized and marginalize student, using phrases like “colorblind” that are racist code words for white supremacy, hinting that some cultures are superior to others, denying the inherent racism of American society and on and on. And who can predict tomorrow’s offense? Critically, not even the most PC professor is guaranteed escape from the social justice warrior wrath.  

Professors need only return to the days of long tedious reading assignments, regular 20 page papers and killer exams. Also bring back the almost antiquated grades of “C,” “D” and, especially, “F.” Make achieving social justice and staying in school mutually exclusive. Nor should professors tolerate personal opinions, heartfelt feelings and political cant as academically relevant in classroom discussions or paper assignments. Yes, these harsh measures will lower teacher ratings but, a reputation for arduous assignments and ruthless grading will discourage the delicate snowflakes and buttercups (not to mention struggling minority students) from taking one’s class. Hard to think of a better strategy to avoid trouble in today’s PC-obsessed academy.

The key point here is how ridding the campus of the SJW folk will improve higher education and do so without much upheaval. Undergraduates will now on average be smarter, work harder and will no longer substitute feelings for knowledge. As an added bonus, schools like Yale and Brown that have shamelessly surrendered to the SJW mob will regain some lost intellectual prestige. The reign of the Social Justice Warriors will be remembered just as many parents of the SJW’s fondly recall the anti-War protestors of the 1960’s.