Before Halloween, the administration at Yale University sent out a campus-wide email recommending that students think before they costume as a protective measure against cultural appropriation and ultimately, offense. In response, one teacher from the university invited a conversation among her students about whether the course taken was corrective or detrimental, ultimately resulting in a mass protest against her employment at the school. Earlier this week, The Atlantic published a story on the situation called “The New Intolerance of Student Activism.” It hearkened back to another article published in the September 2015 issue of the same magazine called “The Coddling of the American Mind.” Both argue a sentiment brought forward by the latter story, which is that “Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.”
Here, Mattie and Leandra discuss the recent phenomena in a text message conversation.*
* In the time since this conversation took place, new pieces of context have been added to the narrative thus alluding to the much larger and frankly unacceptable issue of structural racism. But how do we invite debate and talk about these problems in a way that is productive and thoughtful? Can we?
Collage by Krista Anna Lewis