An Open Letter to Concerned Student 1950

 

151109091618-01-mizzou-protest-1109-large-169To the aggrieved members of Concerned Student 1950:

Thanks to the Internet and several dozen members of the Concerned Students 1950 movement, I am in receipt of your list of demands for changes to take place at your beloved university. Let me begin by suggesting that hurling a list of demands and expecting people to address them is not really the way that responsible grown-ups deal with important questions. Typically, we agree to abide by certain rules that govern civilized dialogue, which include, for instance, that there should be no shouting, spitting, screaming threats, disrupting campus activities, throwing dangerous objects, calling for “muscle” to prevent others from participating, leaving disgusting human debris on the beautiful campus, or otherwise engaging in other activities that stifle the free exchange of ideas. That, of course, is just the short list.

I suppose the first thing to notice is that you succeeded in forcing the resignation of the university president, which I take as more of a statement about the cowardice of academic leadership in our time than a vindication of your methods. However, you’re probably right in assuming that mobs of students and faculty at other academic institutions will mimic your approach, though much to the detriment of maintaining civilized society. Still, don’t count on it. There may be lurking in some academic hideaway a leader with the fortitude required to stand up to student-faculty mobs screaming, 1960s-style, lists of non-negotiable demands. And when that happens, the entire house of cards embodied in your actions will collapse.

I notice that in your first demand, you insisted that the president “acknowledge his white male privilege,” a statement I find very curious, although without question this phrase constitutes one of the more racist fads of our time. However, have you noticed that for the past half century, educational institutions and businesses across the land have labored furiously to recruit members of minority groups, especially African-Americans? Indeed, it is hard to imagine more intense and strenuous national exertions than the ones centered on increasing minority group “representation” in all aspects of our life. In fact, the efforts to assist “persons of color” (your phrase, not mine) rival something like universal military conscription (yes, I’ve been around long enough to know those days). Don’t you think it’s possible that since you belong to the most pampered generation in American history that it’s now time for you to “check your privilege?” It’s preposterous for you to act as though it’s still 1969.

By the way, speaking of conscription, I strongly recommend that you consider enlisting in one of our outstanding branches of military service. Without question, struggling through BCT and learning your MOS in AIT at Fort Leonard Wood or Fort Benning, or some other place, would perform miracles in transforming you into a responsible adult human being and provide you with experiences to make you extremely proud of yourself. Even better, military training would enable you to reflect on your college exploits with considerable wisdom and embarrassment, traits that are sorely needed for today’s youth (and faculty). Not familiar with the terms BCT, MOS, and AIT? Why don’t you enlist and find out what they mean.

As far as your menagerie of social justice claims, I assume that you have been steeped in the great thoughts of our civilization’s deepest thinkers over the course of the past two millennia or so, in order to carry out an intelligent conversation about these matters. If you haven’t done so then, frankly, you’re just wasting my time. If you can’t do a fast-track immersion in the most profound ideas of great thinkers and struggle with the timeless controversies to which they devoted their lives, at least go to class on time, pay attention to your professors, be courageous enough to question their propositions, be respectful to others, and take regular baths or showers. Also, it won’t hurt you to address your betters with such terms as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Doctor” or “Ma’am” or “Sir,” or whatever is appropriate. After all, Missouri still is considered a southern state, isn’t it? Whatever, I think these forms of address should be used everywhere.

In conclusion, I ask respectfully that you give serious consideration to the points raised in this letter. Perhaps, you won’t. Which means, in my view, that you have a lot of growing up to do.

Sincerely,

A Concerned American, from a few generations in the past.

There are 27 comments.

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  1. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    These kids need to be told what a bunch of spoiled, coddled babies they are. Of course when they have “adult” advisors like that detestable media professor who told the student newspaper reporter he couldn’t be there, what chance do they have. Who are their parents? Do they know what babies they’ve raised? Unbelievable!

    • #1
  2. Tim H. Member
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Yes, these would make for a decent start.  Boy, wouldn’t it be something if the student radicals addressed their professors and presidents as “Sir” or “Ma’am” or “Doctor”?  I insist on “Doctor” or “Professor” from my students, but I don’t think this bunch would go for it.

    In the discussion to my thread on the similar Yale mess, I speculate that one reason students try these tactics in college (with some success), when they would never fly in high school, is that the students see themselves as not merely adults, but as the peers and equals (if not betters) of their professors and administration.  They feel justified in talking down to their elders.

    In high school and younger, the students know they’re not the peers of their teachers.  And I think that gives the teachers a lot more confidence in being able to speak the facts of life to their students without fear of being fired.  In college, that has a chance of setting off somebody’s grievance.

    • #2
  3. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Tim H.
    . Boy, wouldn’t it be something if the student radicals addressed their professors and presidents as “Sir” or “Ma’am” or “Doctor”? I insist on “Doctor” or “Professor” from my students, but I don’t think this bunch would go for it.

    Tim, the students believe that they are equals because they are treated as equals by faculty.  This starts at the top.  You and I knew better when we were 18, and the many remarkable professors from whom I learned knew it too.

    • #3
  4. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Here’s my version of an open letter to concerned student 1950.  I think you’ll find it a bit more succinct.

    “[redacted] you, [redacted].”

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    If your communications professor responds to an opportunity to communicate by calling for “muscle” to deal with that opportunity, you might want to contemplate switching professors. Or majors. Or universities.

    • #5
  6. Aimee Jones Inactive
    Aimee Jones
    @AimeeJones

    Tim H.:In high school and younger, the students know they’re not the peers of their teachers. And I think that gives the teachers a lot more confidence in being able to speak the facts of life to their students without fear of being fired. In college, that has a chance of setting off somebody’s grievance.

    If only this were true. Unfortunately, I see a large number of incident reports daily from various law enforcement agencies and have spoken with many high school teachers and administrators who would disagree. It is appalling the way high school and even middle school students talk to adults – be it their parents, their friends’ parents, their teachers, principals and law enforcement. Their language and behavior would make your hair curl. Not all, of course, but more than we would like to think. Furthermore, very often teachers feel unsupported when dealing with these students because their administrators frequently take the side of the students and/or their parents.

    • #6
  7. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    My father once mentioned how during the 60’s he always went to teach at his University wearing his suit and tie. As a retired Air Force officer he respected the uniform. He mentioned how almost all the other profs of his generation went native. Until one year he started the new year, and all his fellow profs who had gone native returned to teaching in there suits and ties.

    • #7
  8. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Reality is an unforgiving, but effective teacher.

    • #8
  9. Tim H. Member
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    ToryWarWriter:My father once mentioned how during the 60’s he always went to teach at his University wearing his suit and tie. As a retired Air Force officer he respected the uniform. He mentioned how almost all the other profs of his generation went native. Until one year he started the new year, and all his fellow profs who had gone native returned to teaching in there suits and ties.

    I make a point of dressing up for class.  Not always coat and tie, though often that, too.  I think it helps set the right expectations.

    • #9
  10. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I find it difficult to blame the students in this situation. It was my experience in education that students would simply push the envelope as far as administrators and teachers allowed them to. A firmly established limit on behavior with appropriate and consistent consequences for exceeding it worked marvels in terms establishing order. The behaviors we are witnessing today go back quite a ways. I remember seeing them in the 1960s at Columbia University where students took over buildings and interfered with the ability of others to attend classes and achieve their academic goals. Had the simple act of expelling the offending students from the school been taken it is highly unlikely that we would still be seeing this kind of nonsense today.

    The abdication of their authority by the administration to the students is comparable to locking up the docents and allowing the animals to roam freely through the zoo. It is beyond absurd, and it is very much in line with the idiotic concepts of leftist utopian thinking. This country is circling drain, and public education at all levels is leading the decline.

    • #10
  11. Tim H. Member
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Aimee Jones:If only this were true. Unfortunately, I see a large number of incident reports daily from various law enforcement agencies and have spoken with many high school teachers and administrators who would disagree. It is appalling the way high school and even middle school students talk to adults – be it their parents, their friends’ parents, their teachers, principals and law enforcement. Their language and behavior would make your hair curl. Not all, of course, but more than we would like to think. Furthermore, very often teachers feel unsupported when dealing with these students because their administrators frequently take the side of the students and/or their parents.

    Admittedly, I was a little too optimistic about the high school conditions, but I still think there’s a difference.  I suspect that in the high schools, the trouble is most likely to come from bad students.  I think that in college, or at least in the very selective colleges, most of our trouble comes not from that kind of student, but from politically or socially-motivated students.  We don’t have much of the physical discipline problem, but our trouble comes from the ideology.

    • #11
  12. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    By the way, someone needs to send the ousted President a copy of Shelby Steele’s White Guilt. It’s never too late to learn where you went wrong.

    • #12
  13. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Tim H.:

    In high school and younger, the students know they’re not the peers of their teachers.

    Having spent more than 40 years in the public schools and taught at all levels, I have to dispute your point. Students these days believe that they are equal, if not superior, to their teachers. They believe that their individual rights exceed those of everyone else. They, also, quite frequently express the view that the wrong is not what they were doing, but the teacher’s pointing it out to them. Their attitudes are reinforced by administrators who often question the teacher in front of the student, forcing the teacher to justify his/her enforcement of clearly defined rules.

    Students use their cellphones and iPods and mini game console in classrooms and dare teachers to take them away. Administrators refuse to ban them from school simply because they lack the courage enforce the rules which call for confiscation. When these toys were confiscated enraged parents accosted the teachers and administrators for doing so. I can assure you that what we saw on the Missouri campus began in the public schools from which these student graduated.

    • #13
  14. russophile Member
    russophile
    @russophile

    From the mom you see today with that “helpless” smile on her face giving into her screaming toddler who wants a toy in the grocery store to Concerned Student 1950, a perfectly straight line can be drawn.

    • #14
  15. Herbert E. Meyer Contributor
    Herbert E. Meyer
    @HerbertEMeyer

    Bravo, Marv!

    • #15
  16. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Party like it’s 1969!

    • #16
  17. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Eugene Kriegsmann:I find it difficult to blame the students in this situation. It was my experience in education that students would simply push the envelope as far as administrators and teachers allowed them to. A firmly established limit on behavior with appropriate and consistent consequences for exceeding it worked marvels in terms establishing order. The behaviors we are witnessing today go back quite a ways. I remember seeing them in the 1960s at Columbia University where students took over buildings and interfered with the ability of others to attend classes and achieve their academic goals. Had the simple act of expelling the offending students from the school been taken it is highly unlikely that we would still be seeing this kind of nonsense today.

    The abdication of their authority by the administration to the students is comparable to locking up the docents and allowing the animals to roam freely through the zoo. It is beyond absurd, and it is very much in line with the idiotic concepts of leftist utopian thinking. This country is circling drain, and public education at all levels is leading the decline.

    Yep.  The letter should be sent to the administrators, not the students.  The administrators have created the students.

    • #17
  18. She Member
    She
    @She

    There are intimations that much of what transpired “pre” the administration’s cave at Mizzou, including the poop swastika episode, may have been embroidered, if not downright fictitious.  In addition, it appears that the ‘hunger strike’ student, far from being a penniless, oppressed victim, is the son of a Union Pacific Railroad Executive Vice-President whose compensation last year was a cool $8.4 million.

    There seems to be at least some evidence that much of Butler’s discomfort had to do with the fact that as a graduate student (at an organization he’s been attending for seven years, where he says he’s felt unsafe from Day One), he lost his student health insurance.

    Meanwhile, the president of Mizzou’s student body is apologizing for spreading false rumours that the KKK was on campus (this link mentions further links between Payton Head and the nations Community-Organizer-in-Chief, and the current mayor of Chicago (apparently, his father was a Chicago high-school principal who was fired for poor performance, and then sued the school system).

    Who could possibly have guessed!

    I haven’t read the entire list of demands, but understand that quite a few of them refer to the need for additional mental health services and treatment.

    I’m all for that.

    Especially in light of this “scholarly article” published by University of Colorado Assistant Professor Cheryl Matias, calling whiteness a ‘disease.’

    She states the following:

    “We cannot even begin to address symptoms, such as the racial achievement gap, if we do not address the underlying diseases of racism and Whiteness.”

    and she continues:

    “As the only person of color in the room, I am often left with the pain of being denied a racial reality. Thus, the cycle of abuse is a pyrrhic victory, one where the pain and tears of whites override my own pain.”

    Remember, this is a teacher.

    We’re fond of noting that academia has become a breeding ground and incubator for little Marxists, Communists and community organizers.

    But it’s worse than that.

    It’s producing a generation of nutcases.

    And for that, the ‘adults’ in the system are to blame.

    • #18
  19. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I taught for about five years at a community college (Introduction to Computers and Microsoft Office). I always wore a coat and tie to class, and always addressed the students as Mr. or Ms (or Mrs., if I was asked) So-and-so. This was in deep East Texas where informality was the rule.

    For some reason my students seemed to behave more responsibly than any other instructor’s students. I did not necessarily have the best students in the college. Word went out (aided by the administration) if you thought you were going to have trouble learning computers take Mr. Seawriter’s classes. Not that he was an easy instructor – just that he worked with you if you were willing to try.

    Why did my students work hard? Because I gave them the same deference I would give my boss, and expected the same deference from them. It was the first time in their lives for the younger students. When you are 18-20, and someone treats you like an adult – and sets adult standards – it is a real rush.  The older students taking the classes were relieved to be treated as adults, not buddies.

    Alas, I suspect many of today’s professoriate are adolescents in adult bodies, afraid to grow up. Not all of them, but far too many. Just as my students modeled my behavior in class their students model these instructors’ juvenile behavior.

    Seawriter

    • #19
  20. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Frozen Chosen:These kids need to be told what a bunch of spoiled, coddled babies they are. Of course when they have “adult” advisors like that detestable media professor who told the student newspaper reporter he couldn’t be there, what chance do they have. Who are their parents?Do they know what babies they’ve raised? Unbelievable!

    They simply need a spanking and no dessert after dinner.

    • #20
  21. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    There is absolutely no reason to follow your guidelines when simple extortion works just as well. Those students know this and the fact that the administration caved to their demands so quickly validates their strategy.

    Immediately after the college president resigned, the group started circulating a new demand list. This time a demand for graduate student medical insurance to be reinstated. Doesn’t matter that they can blame Obamacare for this problem. They want it and they want it now.

    The demands won’t stop and will probably accelerate. As of today, yet another professor lost his job because although there were internet threats regarding violence directed at minorities on campus, he had the audacity to notify his students that testing would continue and he hoped they would come to class so “the bullies who do these things” won’t win.

    Looks like the bullies won anyway.

    • #21
  22. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    HeartofAmerica: Looks like the bullies won anyway.

    What would have happened if George Bush had resigned after 9/11?

    Oh, yes. Then they would have had to deal with President Cheney. No Cheney around in this case. I would say character matters or should matter, but the college’s president got so little in the way of support from his colleagues. The football coach was supporting the threat of a walkout. The faculty group was encouraging professors to walk out.

    I just don’t see how anybody can take his place in today’s university. Even though the university system is run by liberals, the ones who are there are there to build up the system. Yet they have fomented a situation where the objective has come about to tear all that they’ve built down. This seems like a colossal illustration of ‘what goes around comes around.’ The university system as it’s practiced in America today has almost got to be torn down to its foundations, and to decide what are the fundamentals they should be espousing and teaching. Above anything else, they desperately need to return to the fundamentals of a classical liberal education.

    R. Kujawa, M.S. UMR (University of Missouri Rolla, now Missouri University of Science and Technology), 2004

    • #22
  23. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Jonah Goldberg (as usual) has a great piece on a root cause of this campus nonsense.

    Where are those liberal defenders of free speech?  Wasn’t it called “the free speech movement” at Berkeley back in the day?  I rather suspect it was all a fraud from the outset.  Students should be free to spout off without being challenged.

    Today, everything is a trigger for legal action.  Tell a co-worker their hair looks nice & you might find yourself on the business end of an EEOC action.  We have raised children unable to handle reality.  Reality isn’t always polite, or courteous, or positive.  Otherwise fine people might call you an idiot if you do something idiotic.  The lesson isn’t to bleat about him being mean; maybe you should fix the idiocy and thus earn the respect of your counterpart (and cause them to re-examine their own behavior. I’ve lived this.  On both sides.).

    The real world is a difficult place, not a bubble.  The wolves have to be kept from the door by both smarts and the sword.  Sadly, our culture is pushing us to parent so our kids have neither.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/426853/yale-student-protest-safe-space-political-correctness

    • #23
  24. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    A very nice item from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal:

    From a 2005 interview in Boston magazine with John Silber (who died in 2012), about student protests in the 1970s and ’80s when he was president of Boston University: Then they put up the shacks. I told the police, “Go ask them three questions: Do you have a title to the property? (They built them on our property, not theirs.) Do you have a building permit? We have to have building permits. Have you got a clearance with the historical commission, because this is a historical district? If the answer is no to those three questions, then you tell them, ‘We’ll give you about 15 minutes to remove your shanty. And if you don’t, you’ll be arrested.’ ” I said, “Now, none of them are going to remove their shanty, so you’re going to have to arrest them. But I want you to be very gentle, and I want you to take them to the paddy wagon singing, ‘It’s just a shanty in old shanty town.’ ” Because one point I want to get across to these students is, I do not take them seriously. This is not some very deeply felt, high moral cause on their part; this is showboating of a very insincere kind by most of these students, and I want them to understand that I see through their pretensions.

    • #24
  25. Liz Member
    Liz
    @Liz

    A poli sci professor of mine used to blame it on the weather. If it were snowing or pouring icy rain, he argued, not a one of the “protesters” would be outside, grievance-stricken.

    Pathetic and enraging.

    • #25
  26. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    I would like to see more reporting about what is happening at schools where these brownshirts are not making waves.  Young idiots are everywhere, so why are they active on some campuses and not on others?  Who exactly are they and who might be supporting them from the outside?  What are good administrators (all three of them) doing?  Some, like Mitch Daniels at Purdue, have adopted “The Chicago Principles,” a statement of commitment to free and open inquiry that is worth reading.

    It is perhaps shameful that we must recommit to basic principles, but that seems to be the human condition: nothing lasts.  A commitment  (Yale, are you listening?) is likely to prevent trouble.  Lack of such commitment is like announcing a gun-free zone.  And also the sun once again rises in the east.

    • #26
  27. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    One issue connected to this that keeps coming up is “White Privelege.” In 1969 when I came to Seattle the schools had hired approximately 60 new teachers. Three of them were white, me, my wife, and one other person. All three of us were hired by the Special Education department because in order to teach in that area you had to have demonstrated skills and training. Those qualifications weren’t necessary for other teaching positions. You just had to be black.

    In 1987 I applied for a teaching job at the Seattle Aquarium. I had more than twenty years of teaching experience. I was a NAUI instructor with more than 30 years of SCUBA diving experience.  I had a Masters degree in Marine Science from the University of Miami. Pretty good qualifications for the job, I would say. I was beaten out for the position by a black woman with two years of teaching and no formal training in either Marine Science or SCUBA.

    During my years in Seattle Public Schools I learned pretty early on that my upward mobility was strictly limited by my gender and my race. I am a white male. If anyone ever tells me to check my White Privilege again, I am going to punch them in the nose.

    • #27
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