From an article in the Washington Post.
As colleges grapple with the widespread problem of sexual assault, there is a growing consensus that the nation’s schools need to do more to educate young people about sex and relationships before they ever set foot on campus.
The focus of the article is on attempts to use sex education in grades K-12 to explain the concept of consent to young people.
My point is not to say whether this is good or bad. What strikes me is how swiftly the fashions have changed on elite college campuses. As recently as five or six years ago, if you had asked me, I would have have said the colleges do too much to encourage casual sex–telling the resident assistant to keep a set of condoms in a candy dish so that anyone could come by and grab one as needed. Now, the colleges seem to be headed in the complete opposite direction. Not that they want to get rid of the condoms, but they seem to be trying to make sure that no one can have fun using them.
On a rather different note, Bart Hinkle gives an example of the campus fashion for “inclusion.”
Among other things, candidates should “include a list of activities that promote or contribute to inclusive teaching, research, outreach, and service”; they should report information about their “contributions to an inclusive campus”; they should write about their “active involvement in diversity and inclusion”; demonstrate that they have pursued “training in inclusive pedagogy”; incorporate “the Principles of Community into course development”; and so on. A spokesman for the university says providing such information is purely voluntary — but who applying for promotion or tenure is likely to see it that way?
He points out that if someone were to impose a similar requirement on professors to demonstrate their patriotism, people would be properly outraged.
I am becoming increasingly concerned that sending children to college is dangerous for their intellectual health. I am afraid that instead of being told how to think, students are being told not to think. They are being ideological role models, not intellectual role models.
Had someone expressed such sentiments to me fifteen years ago, I would have dismissed that person as a paranoid right-wing nutjob. I infer that in the meantime either I have turned into a paranoid right-wing nut job or there has been a significant erosion of intellectual integrity at American colleges, or both.
I am inclined to believe that it was rapid erosion of intellectual integrity. I think that the last 15 years have witnessed a change in the demographics of the professoriate. Professors with intellectual integrity have aged out or otherwise departed. An anti-intellectual conformity has appeared in their place. When you have intellectual integrity, you don’t see these sorts of abrupt fashion changes. I think of intellectual integrity as getting your beliefs from careful reflection. That means that you did not rely on fashions in the first place, and you do not change your beliefs to fit the latest fashion.