Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Reynolds:  Universities' Reactions To Presidential Election Constitute Microaggressions Against Students Who Voted For Trump

Following up on last Saturday's post, Law Schools React To Donald Trump's Election:  USA Today op-ed: 'Tolerant' Educators Exile Trump Voters From Campus, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee):

One of the more amusing bits of fallout from [the presidential] election has been the safe-space response of many colleges and universities to the election of the “wrong” candidate. But on closer examination, this response isn’t really amusing. In fact, it’s downright mean.

Donald Trump’s substantial victory, when most progressives expected a Hillary Clinton landslide, came as a shock to many. That shock seems to have been multiplied in academe, where few people seem to know any Trump supporters — or, at least, any Trump supporters who’ll admit to it.

The response to the shock has been to turn campuses into kindergarten. The University of Michigan Law School announced a “post-election self-care” event with “food” and “play,” including “coloring sheets, play dough (sic), positive card-making, Legos and bubbles with your fellow law students.” (Embarrassed by the attention, UM Law scrubbed the announcement from its website, perhaps concerned that people would wonder whether its graduates would require Legos and bubbles in the event of stressful litigation.) ...

[E]ven the Ivy League wasn’t immune, with the University of Pennsylvania (Trump’s alma mater) creating a post-election safe space with puppies and coloring books ... At Cornell, The Fix reported, students held a “cry in.” ...

It’s easy to mock this as juvenile silliness — because, well, it is juvenile silliness of the sort documented in Frank Furedi’s What's Happened To The University? But that’s not all it is. It’s also exactly what these schools purport to abhor: an effort to marginalize and silence part of the university community. ...

But when you treat an election in which the “wrong” candidate wins as a traumatic event on a par with the 9/11 attacks, calling for counseling and safe spaces, you’re implicitly saying that everyone who supported that “wrong” candidate is, well, unsafe. Despite the talk about diversity and inclusion, this is really sending the signal that people who supported Trump — and Trump is leading the state of Michigan, so there are probably quite a few on campus — aren’t really included in acceptable campus culture. It’s not promoting diversity; it’s enforcing uniformity. It’s not promoting inclusion; it’s practicing exclusion. And though it pretends to be about nurturing, it’s actually about being mean to those who don’t fall in the nurtured class. [The University of Michigan President] wrote he wants the university to be “a welcoming place for all members of society,” but how welcome can students who backed Trump feel in the wake of this performance?

See also Washington Post op-ed: George Mason Needs to Get a Grip, by Thomas Wheatley (George Mason):

My school, George Mason University, has been triggered.

I know this from the seven — yes, seven — university administration emails I received in less than 24 hours advertising forums described as “post-election conversations” and “healing spaces.” These forums are offered as “a space for students to gather in the wake” of the election to “discuss and make sense of the outcomes.” Counselors from the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services will be available for “students wishing to discuss the recent election results in a safe environment.”

Although “snacks and refreshments” will be provided, the emails say nothing in the way of binkies or diapers; students may need to bring their own.

Okay, fine, I should not joke. There are, after all, some very sinister undertones hidden in these emails.

First, let’s strip these forums of all pretext: such “post-election conversations” are intended for those unhappy with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s victory. I can only speculate, but I think it is safe to assume the university would not take such ridiculous measures had Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won. ...

Conservatives have suffered many disheartening setbacks in the past few years, many of which kept us up at night in worry and anger. Yet we saw no comforting emails from administrators or invitations to use “special resources” (not that we would have used them; we value our dignity). Rather, we were left to endure the harassment, intimidation and death threats all by ourselves. And we’re still here and still going strong.

Students and faculty and George Mason: get a grip.

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The subtle message of this double standard is that it's normal for a progressive to be too fragile to handle setbacks, whereas stoicism is the only normal reaction from a conservative. It's an implicit admission that conservatives are more emotionally mature.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Nov 21, 2016 6:38:19 AM

And with an estimated 3 million votes being cast by people who were ineligible to vote in a federal election .... the 1.5 million number popular vote difference becomes even less powerful.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Nov 21, 2016 4:27:54 AM

It's another indication, in case we needed one, that colleges and universities are fundamentally sectarian institutions and need to be stripped of their role sorting the labor market and need to have their governance model revamped and their degree architecture replaced.

Posted by: Art Deco | Nov 19, 2016 2:14:07 PM


Did I say Trump won more than 50%? Electorally, though, he did better than Kennedy in 1960, Carter in 1976, and Bush in 2000 and 2004. But I'd much prefer the U.S. had a better system, like some EU countries. We'd be headed to a run-off election for a clear +50% winner.

Posted by: MM | Nov 19, 2016 11:33:04 AM

Don't think pirate was suggesting that Clinton should be the winner just that Reynolds's characterization of Trump's victory as "substantial" was at least somewhat hyperbolic. And, MM, Trump clearly did not get 50% of the popular vote either.

Posted by: BC | Nov 19, 2016 10:47:27 AM


While it's true that her nationwide margin i around 1.5 million votes, she won California by about 3.5 million votes. That suggests she's way behind almost everywhere else in the country.

And that begs the question: Leaving aside the electoral system, if a candidate deserves to win by a simple majority, what does it mean when more than 50% of voters clearly didn't support her?

Posted by: MM | Nov 19, 2016 8:51:22 AM

The popular vote is irrelevant. That's the proverbial two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner. Maybe get a copy of the constitution and read why Trump did in fact win a substantial victory.

Posted by: Tim Kelly | Nov 19, 2016 4:10:51 AM

I think macroaggression would be more like it

Posted by: mike livingston | Nov 19, 2016 2:54:01 AM

Trump's "substantial victory?" He lost the popular vote by mora than 1.4 million votes - that makes his victory the least substantial of any in history.

Posted by: Pirate | Nov 19, 2016 2:43:39 AM