Silver Linings to Student Meltdowns

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment


The bad news is that student protestors today are more openly totalitarian than demonstrators of the 1960s. The good news: They’re less destructive.

black lives matter photo“At the University of Kansas, where I graduated, students torched the student union [in the 1960s],” Hillsdale College professor David Whalen remembered in an appearance at HC’s Washington headquarters on March 22, 2016.  “The present surge of violence is not as destructive, perhaps because of self-interest: There will be no place to get your latte without a student union,” he wryly noted, “but these protests are against free speech while the ones in the 1960s at least claimed to be for it.”

A number of causes for the present unrest have been offered, including, Dr. Whalen notes, “The spoiled youth syndrome,” “lack of law and order,” and “tenured radicals.” Dr. Whalen does not dispute any of these and indeed, they are not mutually exclusive.

Nevertheless, Dr. Whalen avers, the problem goes much deeper, namely the straying from the traditional mission of the university— the search for knowledge. Indeed, it is this end which free speech as well as the rigors of debate, are but means, albeit essential means.

Parenthetically, Dr. Whalen may have touched on another silver lining in the current student unrest: “The media coverage is not as sympathetic as one might imagine.”

Photo by Light Brigading

Photo by Light Brigading