Jean Twenge, a Psychology Professor at San Diego State University, theorizes that the problems the current generation of college pupils has with free speech stems from their having spent “their entire adolescence with smartphones in their hands,” thereby avoiding missing the rough and tumble of face to face interactions with other children, and from their having led an otherwise dismayingly soft life:
iGen’ers grew up in an era of smaller families and protective parenting. They rode in car seats until they were in middle school, bounced on soft-surface playgrounds and rarely walked home from school. For them, unsurprisingly, safety remains a priority, even into early adulthood.
Nor are they just concerned about physical safety. The iGen teens I have interviewed also speak of their need for “emotional safety”—which, they say, can be more difficult to protect. … This is a distinctively iGen idea: that the world is an inherently dangerous place because every social interaction carries the risk of being hurt. You never know what someone is going to say, and there’s no way to protect yourself from it.
Twenge’s thesis certainly is a major component. However, she has missed another major component.
School pupil populations always have had a significant fraction of crybabies and snowflakes. What’s also changed is the onset of cowardice by college/university faculty and administrators. When pupils look to college administrators to settle disputes, for instance, those administrators need to have the courage to say, “No, settle your own dispute” instead of taking the easy way and intervening in order to quiet the squawling toddlers.
When pupils cry that it’s administrators’ jobs to create homes and not an intellectually challenging environments, those administrators need to have the courage—here the integrity—to say, “No, go back home; this isn’t the place for you.”
When pupils riot over their manufactured hurt-feelings re speakers of whose speech they style themselves afraid or disapproving, those pupils need to be arrested and brought to trial for their crimes; administrators must encourage police in this rather than build their administrator escape hatches through which to scuttle away from a problem that, in large part, is of their creation.
Related—closely—is a Letter to the Editor by Oriel College, Oxford, albeit of uncertain provenance, addressing a pupil who decided to be offended by a statue to Cecil Rhodes. Here’s the money quote, via WillowSpring, writing for Ricochet:
Cecil Rhodes’s generous bequest has contributed greatly to the comfort and well being of many generations of Oxford students—a good many of them, dare we say it, better, brighter, and more deserving than you.
This does not necessarily mean we approve of everything Rhodes did in his lifetime – but then we don’t have to. Cecil Rhodes died over a century ago. Autres temps, autres moeurs. If you don’t understand what this means—and it would not remotely surprise us if that were the case—then we really think you should ask yourself the question: “Why am I at Oxford?”
And then please explain what it is that makes your attention grabbing campaign to remove a listed statue from an Oxford college more urgent, more deserving than the desire of probably at least 20,000 of those 22,000 students to enjoy their time here unencumbered by the irritation of spoilt, ungrateful little tossers on scholarships they clearly don’t merit using racial politics and cheap guilt-tripping to ruin the life and fabric of our beloved university.
Understand us and understand this clearly: you have everything to learn from us; we have nothing to learn from you.
I might have added words with the effect of further calling out this precious snowflake: “This school exists in large part because of that Evil Man’s evil money, and so you’re able to present yourself with your whine in large part because of that Evil Man’s evil money. Of course, you knew of Cecil Rhodes and his donation well in advance because Mumsy told you before you applied. So, indeed: why are you here?”