Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 5/5/14

This week’s focus point: Rutgers, my alma mater (which I was once proud of claiming as such), has had strong student protests causing former Secretary of State Candoleezza Rice to cancel her scheduled graduation speech. She chose not to become a distraction to the event. Her involvement in the Iraq War is apparently the key issue. (The fact that she was the first black woman in such a position doesn’t seem of interest.) Recently, Brown University students booed a former New York City Police Commissioner off the stage from which he had been invited to speak. (A woman heading some committee or other was quoted as saying, “Free speech is not guaranteed in private universities.” Really? Wasn’t that Germany in the thirties?) Rutgers, of course, is a public university, the first of the land grant colleges, and famous for its high academic standing prior to basketball coaches who emotionally abused players and athletic directors who ignored it. In my days at Rutgers there were angry debates between military recruiters and protestors (the height of the Viet Nam war) but debates they were, with both sides being heard. We’ve come to a sad state of polarization–and ignorance–when we’re so insecure we can’t allow “the other side” to be heard. Talk about bullying in the schools….

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4 thoughts on “Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 5/5/14

  1. Alan,

    Polarizing views on way too many subjects are surrounding us with negative, an almost crippling, impact on business and personal relationships. It manifests itself in stilted conversations and hurt feelings. What has taken us to this place as a society and what can we do to change it in addition to refusing to play?


    • We have to elect leaders who don’t pander to their constituency with ad hominem attacks on the opposition. We have to abandon the current, crude, outmoded methods of “higher learning,” where students simply get their tickets stamped while listening to irrelevant professors spout out agiprop, protected by ancient rules of tenure. We need forums where people debate instead of shouting at each other.

  2. I noticed an article published in the WSJ (printed in an Australian newspaper) that a number of student unions/bodies at Universities around the US (including, but not limited to, Oberlin, Rutgers, Uni at Michigan, George Washington U) are proposing that students be given ‘trigger warnings’ regarding classes so that they don’t have to entertain ideas, -isms and concepts that they may personally find uncomfortable, offensive or may cause ‘trauma’. Even the faculty at those universities are protesting this intrusion into engagement with anything in the world that may be different from one’s narrow, super-sensitive ideologies.

  3. It is the latest illness of our society that tries to enact laws and rules to protect everyone from real and imagined problems. Life is about facing up to challenges and discomfort and even trauma, not hiding from them. Imagine the kind of value one would miss in being “triggered away” from Moby Dick or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? or Band of Brothers?

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