In defense of collegiate backlash; College culture is shunning out a major voice in current american culture. By Jack Kelly
On Tuesday September 22, the internet’s leading source on all purpose cynicism and mob justice, Gawker, published a story regarding a recent controversy at Wesleyan University. According to Gawker, students at the Connecticut university are seeking to defund their campus newspaper, The Argus, after the paper published an op-ed piece entitled “Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think”. The Argus piece claimed that the Black Lives Matter movement is inconsistent, contradictory and fraudulent.
The piece strongly defended police forces around the country.
There are at least 150 signatures for a petition to boycott the campus paper until several demands can be met.
These include the establishment of work study capacity for the paper and an “open space on the front page in the publication dedicated to marginalized groups/voices”.
If there are no submissions for the category, the space on the front page would be labeled “for your voice”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I dislike biased, conservative and false media as much as any other dutiful liberal arts student, and I’ve seen enough episodes of The O’Riley Factor to know that angry white men yelling in defense of the establishment is pathetic at its best and cruel at its worst.
However, I’m not convinced that a full out boycott of an entire publication is the way to deal with a singular student’s irritating opinions.
The piece was published in the paper’s opinion section after all.
Personally I feel that this backlash has a bit of a neo-McCarthyist air surrounding it.
Is blacklisting and extorting an entire publication really a warranted response for the paper’s mistake of hiring one right leaning staff writer?
I wonder. If a liberal arts college is really supposed to be the cradle of intellectual engagement it claims to be in the brochures, then wouldn’t an all out boycott undercut the potential for some really, really good rhetorical stand off between the paper and its critics?
Should The Argus negotiate with the concerned students with demands of their own?
Do you see how ridiculous this is becoming?
In my effort to understand the social climate at Wesleyan, I spoke to a first year student there about his thoughts regarding the controversy.
Reed Gulick-Stutz, a native of Portland, Oregon described the social climate of the school as being incredibly intense, saying Wesleyan has, “quite an aggressive social justice attitude here to what I think is an unhealthy level”.
It seems that an excessive climate of social justice on a college campus can actually do more harm than good in the educational process.
I asked Reed how he felt about journalistic integrity, “I think people should be free to express their opinions, and just because most people at this school don’t agree with it does not mean it shouldn’t be published in the newspaper”.
It stands to reason that receiving and understanding different viewpoints would give one a more holistic understanding of that issue.
Apparently not a Wesleyan.
What I believe we are witnessing with the Wesleyan Argus debacle is the tipping point of outrage culture.
This controversy is proof of just how far students are willing to go in order to ignore opinions that they don’t want to hear.
What if one of the petition signees walks into a barbershop for a haircut and sees Fox News playing on the television? Would the son rise in the west and signify the End of Days, or would life go on just the same with one annoyed patron?
If your student outrage is getting picked up and torn apart by the national media then maybe it’s time to cut your losses.
The world outside of campus is beautiful, awe inspiring and filled with people that believe crazy, ridiculous and sometimes even conservative things.
The best thing we can do collectively, as college students of the 2010s, is to embrace, engage and rationalize like the adults we are.