I’m cutting and pasting from comments I made on Facebook earlier this week…
This isn’t about coddled students. This is a pissing contest between admin and faculty, where students ended up in the crosshairs. The IAC email was a reminder to not be a jerk; Christakis’ response distorted that into a 1st Amendment issue.
Let’s put it this way: should a university encourage good judgment or should it encourage “free speech” merely for the sake of free speech? In other words, is it desirable to try to prevent offensive actions before they even happen or is it desirable to give shield to offense when it could have been so easily prevented?
Moreover, let’s put this in cultural context. Many under-privileged students make it to higher education by playing by the rules set forth by the majority. To say “just tell someone that their costume offends you” is to ignore the fact that in the US, in 2015, a black person confronting a white person can get that black person killed. Or maybe just kicked out of school. Still, not something that will cross the mind of a privileged student but definitely something that some students live with everyday. To say “we should have open discourse” is fundamentally appealing, but is also standing on principle at the expense of reality.
Finally, I don’t see the problem as one involving helicopter parents. While some under-represented minority students undoubtedly had HPs, I’d bet that a greater percentage of them did not have HPs as compared to white or Asian students.