A strange development is has been happening in American universities and colleges. A campaign is mounting, undirected and propelled in large part by students to scour campuses clean of subjects, ideas, and words that might give offense or cause discomfort. The novel politics of sexual paranoia is just one of the many issues that dominate the arena (Kipnis; Shulevitz). The situation is quite appalling to the extent that many students cannot take even a mere benign joke. The concepts of ‘micro-aggressions’ and ‘trigger warnings’ have emerged from obscurity to becoming the standard campus parlance. ‘Micro-aggressions’ allude to word choices or small actions that have no spiteful motive on the face value but are nonetheless perceived as some form of violence (Kipnis). For instance, the use of the word ‘nigger,’ which is often considered micro-aggression in most campuses. ‘Trigger warnings,’ on the other hand, are alerts that instructors are expected to give if an issue in the course might elicit strong emotional responses (Kipnis). These two ideas dominate both Kipnis and Shulevitz’s articles. In this regard, it is a fact that college students in the US are becoming more sensitive to intellectual and social headwinds that hit them because the educational curriculum in which they pass through engineers and pre-programs them to be so to fit the specifications for admission into colleges. This state is quite harmful for it self-infantilizes the students rather than maturing them up for the more har...
sh life after campus.
Analysis of Shulevitz and Kipnis’ articles.
To begin with, Shulevitz recounts the origin of the idea of giving protection to vulnerable students. The notion began in the 1980s with anti-racists and feminist legal scholars who contended that the First Amendment should not protect language that causes emotional harm via sexist or racist stigmatization (Shulevitz). It is fact today that college students in the US are becoming hypersensitive to issues, notions, and words that could give offense or bring about discomfort. Shulevitz elaborates on the rise of ‘safe spaces’ in universities, which are zones set aside exclusively for persons who might feel offended by others’ comments or tickling conversations that are against their principles. ‘Safe spaces’ are designed to be innocuous gatherings of individuals with similar ideologies who agree to refrain from micro-aggressions so that all can unwind adequately to review the nuances of various issues, for example, a smooth gender identity. Such areas remain safe as long as the parties present adhere to the restrictions (Shulevitz). Shulevitz points out that the “safer space mentality” that is pervading the colleges is, in a sense, limiting freedom of speech by causing students and professors alike to loath saying anything that could hurt others’ feelings. Safe spaces, for one, express the conviction, which is also gaining popularity amongst students, that learning institutions should safeguard them from bombardment by distressing or discomfiting viewpoints. They also insinuate the idea that other areas are unsafe. Consequently, students increasingly worry that pieces of writing or acts of speech could jeopardize their emotions (Shulevitz), which is not a desirable development in them.
Shulevitz concludes by reiterating the
fact that though the whole notion of making colleges safer may seem beneficial to those who are hypersensitive, it is nonetheless retrogressive and damaging not only to them but other persons as well. It rids the college of its functionality, which is to sharpen wits and prepare people to stand in the future trial in life. It narrows down, rather than broaden, the students’ field of vision. It insulates, instead of exposing the scholars to unfamiliar ideas that will enable them to learn the discipline of perceiving the world from other people’s points of view. It fails to make them ready for the intellectual and social headwinds that are soon to hit them the very moment they set foot out of the campus cocoon (Shulevitz). In this regard, one can make an inquiry, which is also a genuine concern about what these “hypersensitive people” will do when the opinions that they have so much shrunk from getting into their ears. The increasing use of the word “trauma” to exaggerate situations so that they seem more horrific, and the need of miniature infantries comprising student-life deans, mental health counselors, and so on amongst the current breed of students is accomplishing nothing more than augmenting self-infantilization. Parents, too, could share in the blame for they cushion their kids as they develop instead of allowing them to experience the challenges and risks that promote maturity (Shulevitz).
Kipnis, on the other hand, dwells on the idea of increasing sexual paranoia within US colleges. She raises several critical concerns and explains that a transition has somehow taken place in the US campuses. Her primary issues of concern are the rules set up to contain sexual harassment, which, rather than accomplishing their intended purpose, they merely infantilize students. She expounds that these rules not only take away people’s freedom but are also an intellectual embarrassment to the college fraternities. Students, and more so the ladies, are like traumas waiting to happen. Regardless of context, they are deemed innocent in any conflict between them and their professors on sexual matters. The professors, on the other hand, are increasingly being perceived as ravenous wolves lurking by and waiting for the appropriate moment to pounce on the quarry. They are always the guilty party in any case involving student-professor intimacy. This increasing lack of prudence is appalling. Kipnis expresses concern about how such a delicate breed of students will handle the rough life without the confines of colleges. She explains that such an education is not appropriate for such a generation (Kipnis).
Kipnis relates her campus days when professor and students could freely date each other. There were no prohibitory rules. The consequence of such relations is seen in the many samples of “mixed” couples today. There was no AIDS and no harsh repercussions for such associations (Kipnis). Professors and the institutions were not perceived to be too powerful and the students too helpless. However, this view has morphed since that time. The latest version of campus policy makes it seem as though the power of the institution and the innate danger of coercion are just so great between students and