Friday, 11 November 2016

North Carolina State University Gives Students Post-election Coping Resources

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Activists have taken to the streets to protest the elected Republican candidate, Donald Trump, in exhibits that can only be described as temper tantrums, many of which have become violent. But rather than repudiate the behavior of these protesters and dispute any contention that the election was anything but fair (let’s pretend for a moment that the mainstream media was unbiased in its campaign coverage), North Carolina State University has fed into the notion that its students were somehow wronged by the election outcome and are providing them with “comfort” foods and safe spaces.

The Daily Wire reports that NC State University chancellor Randy Woodson announced that students who were grieving over the results of the election would be provided “conversation spaces” where they can find “comfort” foods such as granola bars.

“The long and contentious presidential campaign that concluded with yesterday’s vote clearly has the country divided, and understandably has resulted in a wide range of feelings throughout our nation, our state and our own campus community,” he wrote in an e-mail to students.

Apparently, the response to his announcement was so high that NC State officials decided to extend the availability of those "conversation spaces."

“Earlier today we shared information about ‘conversation spaces’ that were planned to support students, faculty, and staff,” the e-mail reads. “Given the response and identified need, we will be continuing these. Thursday 11/10 and Friday 11/11 from 10am - 4pm in the Student Involvement Center of Talley we will have staff and counselors available. We will be providing a comfort station with granola bars, snacks, and water.”

One anonymous student, however, sent a brilliant response to Chancellor Woodson that managed to capture all that's wrong with the school's response to the grieving students at NC in a letter obtained by the Daily Wire.

The student, self-identified in the salutation as “The Rooster,” admits that he or she did not vote for Trump, or Clinton, but rather chose the Libertarian candidate this election. But as noted by the student’s letter, his or her politics are not relevant to the opinions expressed in the letter. Rather, the writer's gripes are with the double standard the campus has set:  

What I am wanting to bring out into the open by composing this letter is the validation NC State is giving to those at State, North Carolinians and all citizens of the USA who are protesting the results of this election. Would the "comfort stations" have been made available to us if Ms. Clinton had won? I have to admit, I do not believe so. Should those who supported Trump have taken to the streets, protest, beat those who voted for Ms. Clinton (as has happened to a Trump supporter), called for violence and revolution if Ms. Clinton had won? Or would the Democrats, Liberals and Leftists have expected Conservatives, Republicans and those on the Right to remain silent and accept the new president-elect, her views, her policies and agendas ignoring their own feelings towards Ms. Clinton?

Furthermore, “The Rooster” took issue with what the “conversation spaces” represent:

By your actions you are validating the belief that wrong has been done. Although I am only in my mid forties, I can assure you there have been people who have disagreed with, were upset by and even had angry feelings over election results for hundreds of years. But to give credence to the notion that wrong has been done by providing "comfort stations" is ludicrous. 

The Rooster also contends that NC missed a valuable opportunity to teach important lessons about winning and losing, and unifying as a nation:

The efforts of NC State as well as all public and private institutions and the citizens of the USA should be to ensure that We The People have the same opportunities even though we know we may not have the same outcomes. That We The People will be treated the same under the law. And to demonstrate that We The People are indeed "on the same team." With that goal in mind, maybe NC State should have offered team building exercises where members of both sides could participate rather than one side being offered "comfort stations." Where Democrats and Republicans could mix and match, given tasks to complete and allow them to come together in an effort of achieving a common goal providing an atmosphere of forgetting, if for only a moment, their differences and focus on what they have in common.

Whether The Rooster’s letter resonated with Chancellor Woodson is unknown.

Besides the obvious politics behind NC’s “conversation spaces” (proving once more that college campuses have become a hotbed of liberalism from which very few students escape unscathed), there is another major issue with NC’s response to the election. It contributes to the students’ inflated sense of self and their delusions that they should never have to experience loss, thus making them ill-prepared for the real world.

Greg Lukianoff, a constitutional lawyer and the president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who studies the American culture wars, addressed this very issue in the September 2015 issue of The Atlantic in an article entitled. “The Coddling of the American Mind.”

Lukianoff and Haidt assert that political correctness has morphed into an even more restrictive movement that not only seeks to limit free speech, but also challenges the “literary, philosophical, and historical canon, seeking to widen it by including more-diverse perspectives.” The movement also attempts to punish anyone who interferes with those goals, an impulse that Haidt and Lukianoff dubbed “vindictive protectiveness,” which they claim is pervasive on college campuses today, to the detriment of the students:

It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically.

Rather than teaching students “how” to think, campuses are now teaching students “what” to think.

Even worse, students are being taught to avoid all that they fear and all that offends them by seeking "safe spaces." This mentality has further increased students’ sensitivity so that there is very little that does not offend them.

“In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like,” Lukianoff and Haidt wrote.

Sadly, until dramatic transformations take place in higher education, we can expect to continue to see “conversation spaces” and “comfort” zones on college campuses to help sore losers cope with reality.

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