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Wood ’18 on Student Activism

Thoughtful article by Zach Wood ’18 titled “The Character of Student Activism.”

Another important weakness is the exaggeration of the scope of racism on college campuses. It is fair to say that exceedingly few institutions of higher education are racism free. Racist figures are memorialized on college campuses and most students are not as attentive to issues of inequality as are student activists. However, there is a difference worth considering between episodes that are characteristic of an institution and isolated instances of racism and cultural insensitivity. For many activists, this distinction is overlooked. Equally troubling is the excusal of bigotry by African-Americans directed at other students of color. I’ve experienced this myself as president of Uncomfortable Learning, when students of color called me misogynistic and anti-black for bringing speakers to campus with controversial views.

Welcome to the party, pal! Campus activists have been calling us names for many, many years. Name-calling works. It silences the Other. It makes students hesitant to speak out, to share their thoughts on controversial topics. Do that for decades and, eventually, it seems perfectly natural for the college president to ban a speaker from campus.

Read the entire article. Do you think Wood is on the right track?

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#1 Comment By John C. Drew, Ph.D. On April 15, 2016 @ 3:03 pm

Zach is just amazing. I respect his courage and insight. I think he is right to suggest that student activists exaggerate the influence of whites on black dysfunction.

My own Armenian family was subject to housing discrimination in Glendale, CA as recently as the 1960s. It didn’t slow us down at all. My uncle is a multimillionaire and my brother is a former NASA engineer.

At Williams College, I think the white victims of contemporary affirmative action programs have more cause for reparations than anyone supposedly harmed by the influence of their white ancestors.