U.C. Berkeley can’t seem to go 24 hours without its students doing something stupid in the name of Social Justice. The catch is that other students have iPhones. They can film said stupid behavior and broadcast it to people who don’t live within the Berkeley bubble. These people, such as yours truly, can watch and laugh. And laugh. And laugh. Because guess what? No one takes these whiny kids seriously. Even Liberals are becoming annoyed by the unremitting juvenile temper tantrums on behalf of people old enough to vote.
Case in point: A video recently surfaced of several Berkeley students protesting an exam and demanding a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare.” When the lecture-style class began, the students overtook the front of the room before the professor had a chance to react. Surely these students had a good reason for causing such a major disturbance, right? Uh, yeah, white privilege and, ya know, Social Justice stuff.
The girl leading the charge of the protest (worst protest ever, by the way) complained to the professor and the class of confused students: “Our well-beings are being put on the line because of our emotional, mental, and physical stress that [Berkeley] is compounding with what is already going on in our everyday lives.” Another student chimed in: “The content of this class and the way it is being taught is not satisfactory. We demand that you make and [hold space] to [study] the voices of students of color.” Nothing screams entitlement like the word demand.
After about five minutes of non-stop screeching about white privilege, students of color, safe spaces, et cetera, one student had the nerve to ask “if this is a filibuster.” The girl in the front of the protest was horrified and screamed at the student: “You listen! You have to listen, okay? Listen to us, okay? You talk so much already, okay?… Are you trying to silence us right now? Is that what you’re trying to do?” No, he was trying to take his test.
The female protestor wore a shirt that said “CAUTION: Educated Student of Color.” This is in case you were thinking of questioning her extremely sound argument that she and her friends deserve a take-home exam for no reason other than the color of their skin, and anyone who refuses to agree is a white supremacist. (Racist? Yes.) One wonders how “educated” she can really be, though, if she’s willing to stage a miniature riot in order to avoid an exam.
And yes, as though it weren’t painfully obvious, avoiding the exam is exactly what this little uprising was about. It was not about justice. It was not about the supposed “oppression of students of color.” It was about laziness. Why study, read, and prepare to take a test when you can just show up, shout “white supremacy” and get out of it? (Don’t worry; they still had to take the test.) Unlike the mythical “right wing demonstrators” and “white supremacists” cited by the Berkeley students, however, student laziness is a very real and increasing problem across college campuses.
In her article My lazy American students, Dr. Kara Miller discusses what she sees as the problem among university students of “creativity without knowledge.” This sounds strikingly similar to our exam protestors at Berkeley. It was creative, it just wasn’t smart. Dr. Miller recalls a conversation with one of her previous students in which he asked her what he could do to improve his grade in her class. “I looked at him sideways. ‘Well, you might start staying awake.’”
More and more I am beginning to worry that the influence of Social Justice on college campuses extends even farther than we originally conceived. It seems that the posters on cultural appropriation, the student demonstrations, the protests, the seminars ad nauseum are all the more pernicious in that their real damage is hidden. They don’t just promulgate falsehoods. They serve as distractions, foster laziness and entitlement, and steer the students’ minds away from meaningful academics. At this rate, it is only a matter of time before the only majors available at a standard university will be Lesbian Dance Theory and An Interdisciplinary Approach to Black Lives Matter. After all, Aristotle was a racist.