A copycat league

The Ivy League has long been a copycat league, especially when it comes to its students. In the late 1960s, Dartmouth’s radical activists consciously copied our Harvard counterparts. However, Dartmouth’s administration, learning from Harvard’s response, handled our takeover of the administration building with more savvy, thus avoiding much of the post-takeover turmoil we had hoped to generate.

Flash forward 45 years or so, and we see black protests over nothing very tangible spreading from Yale, to Dartmouth, and now to Princeton.

The Daily Princetonian reports that nearly 200 students are occupying Nassau Hall. Their chant is: “We here. We been here. We ain’t leaving. We are loved.”

I’ll say this for it; it beats “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh.”

The student demands are pretty much copycat:

The organizers demanded cultural competency training for faculty and staff, an ethnicity and diversity distribution requirement, and a space on campus explicitly dedicated to black students. In addition, protesters sought acknowledgement that former University President Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, has a racist legacy that is impacting campus climate and policies and requested that Wilson’s name be taken off of the Wilson School and Wilson College.

Substitute John Calhoun for Woodrow Wilson and toss in Halloween, and you could be in the middle of a Yale protest

The protest organizers say they will not leave Nassau Hall until Princeton’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, signs a document listing their demands. Eisgruber says he does not plan to sign the document and that he disagrees with some of the demands.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Eisgruber finds merit in things like an ethnicity and diversity distribution requirement. He won’t agree to one only because the decision, he says, belongs to the faculty.

Oh well. At least I haven’t seen any report that Eisgruber has apologized to black students for “failing” them.

Eisgruber did have this to say: “I think that it is harder to be a black student on our campus than it is to be a white student. We should be aiming for a campus in which all students feel equally welcomed.”

This comment goes to the heart of the issue. Black students aren’t “unsafe” on our nation’s campus. It’s quite possible, however, that it is harder to be a black student on campus.

Part of the difficulty stems from mismatch — the fact that the average black student on a campus that grants preferential admission based on race is less qualified to excel academically than the average white student, and presumably knows it. I wrote about this here.

However, it’s quite possible that, mismatch aside, black students feel somewhat out of place socially. I’ve heard, for example, that black female students sometimes find it difficult to date white males.

What, though, is to be done about this? Eisgruber says “we should be aiming for a campus in which all students feel equally welcomed.”

But if the lack of equal welcome comes down to whom students are friends with, and date, then what’s the remedy? Presumably, Princeton isn’t prepared to force inter-racial dating.

The alternative is aggressive indoctrination, and it’s no accident that student demands — e.g. forcing white students to take courses in “ethnicity and diversity” and requiring “cultural competency” training — tilt in this direction.

However, this sort of forced feeding will not produce “equal welcome.” It may well produce students who affirm, even more emphatically than now, politically correct views. But few people select their friends and dating partners based on political correctness; nor, quite frankly, should we want them to.

For two centuries, the pursuit of Utopia has produced enormous amounts of evil. “Equal welcome” is Utopian. Its pursuit on college campuses won’t produce evil, but will generate plenty of mischief.