Jennifer Kabbany - Fix Editor

Daily we Americans learn of the latest “trauma” that has sent some group of college students into a tizzy: a microaggression, or grad speaker, or opinion, or phrase, or (insert just about anything here) that prompts these delicate snowflakes to scurry away, call for “safe spaces,” and demand said “offenses” cease and desist.

Sometimes they’re indignant that a controversial concept was broached. Other times they feign outrage and distress to push their ideology on the rest of the campus and their peers. And there are even some who are literally so sheltered and narcissistic that they have no concept of the real world, and think it actually revolves around them.

There are literally too many examples to cite, but if you have the time and inclination, read: thisthis, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this – for starters.

Much has been written lately about this trend of whiny, wimpy, withering college students. One of the most prominent pieces was in Sunday’s New York Times, where Judith Shulevitz opined that these kids are eager to self-infantilize and noted they’re constantly worried about “whether acts of speech or pieces of writing may put them in emotional peril.”

Writing for Reason, staff editor Robby Soave recently compared these fretting young people to the toddlers in his mother’s nursery school, and noted “caving to students’ demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces is doing them no favors: it robs them of the intellectually-challenging, worldview-altering kind of experience they should be having at college. It also emboldens them to seek increasingly absurd and infantilizing restrictions on themselves and each other.”

Good points all. Even liberals have started to bristle at these thinned-skinned campus kerfuffles.

From my vantage point as editor of The College Fix, I have chronicled the minutia of this movement, and at times I’ve wanted to climb to the highest mountain top and scream at the top of my lungs: You do not have the right not to be offended! Last fall Andrew Klavan brilliantly put these kids in their place – explaining to them what real trauma is.

In that same vein, I came across a piece that precisely conveys my contempt for the politically correct campus sniveling that never seems to cease. Posted on The Federalist, it was written by Chris Hernandez, a Marine veteran and current National Guard soldier who served as a combat veteran in Iraq and Afghanistan and logged more than two decades of military service.

It opens with Hernandez telling the tale of a Marine who crashed in a helicopter during a training exercise, a man who ended up covered in grotesque burn scars and other maladies. This guy had survived, his head in flames, as he crawled over his buddies trapped in the wreckage. The Marine told Hernandez “the day I can’t talk about it is the day it starts to haunt me.”

Fast forward to Hernandez’s real-life lesson:

I’m no stranger to trauma, and I’ve dealt with it by writing and talking about it. I suppose I’ve always defined “trauma” the traditional way: a terrible experience, usually involving significant loss or mortal danger, which left a lasting scar. However, I’ve recently discovered my definition of trauma is wrong. Trauma now seems to be pretty CH1much anything that bothers anyone, in any way, ever. And the worst “trauma” seems to come not from horrible brushes with death like I described above; instead, they’re the result of racism and discrimination. …

I’ve reviewed these reports of “trauma”, and have reached a conclusion about them. I’m going to make a brief statement summarizing my conclusion. While I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don’t want victims of microaggressions or supporters of trigger warnings to doubt my sincerity.

F*** your trauma.

Yes, f*** your trauma. My sympathy for your suffering, whether that suffering was real or imaginary, ended when you demanded I change my life to avoid bringing up your bad memories. You don’t seem to have figured this out, but there is no “I must never be reminded of a negative experience” expectation in any culture anywhere on earth.

If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma,” especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say, or think. Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life,” doomed to perpetual disappointment.

Oh, I should add: f** my trauma, too. I must be old-fashioned, but I always thought coming to terms with pain was part of growing up. I’ve never expected anyone to not knock on my door because it reminds me of that terrifying morning decades ago. I’ve never blown up at anyone for startling me with a camera flash (I’ve never even mentioned it to anyone who did). I’ve never expected anyone to not talk about Iraq or Afghanistan around me, even though some memories still hurt. I don’t need trigger warnings because a book might remind me of a murder victim I’ve seen.

Insert slow clap … and read the full post here. (Apparently Facebook already banned it once, which just drives the point home).

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix (@JenniferKabbany)

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IMAGE: Chris Hernandez Facebook page

A swath of students at one of the nation’s most prominent universities stand accused of cheating.

At Stanford University – considered an unofficial Ivy League school on the West Coast – Provost John Etchemendy reports that “an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty [were] reported to our Office of Community Standards at the end of winter quarter.”

The winter quarter there began in early January and ended March 13.

“Among a smattering of concerns from a number of winter courses, one faculty member reported allegations that may involve as many as 20 percent of the students in one large introductory course,” Etchemendy stated in his memo, published Tuesday. “While OCS investigates the larger matter and students are being notified, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of our role in helping students understand the seriousness of academic dishonesty.”

Etchemendy warned technology may be at the root of some of the problems.

“At the beginning of our students’ Stanford careers, they are introduced to the Honor Code and agree to abide by it,” he stated. “But with the ease of technology and widespread sharing that is now part of a collaborative culture, students need to recognize and be reminded that it is dishonest to appropriate the work of others. …”

“I ask you to continue to reflect on ways to discuss the importance of academic integrity frankly and openly with our students. When collaboration in a class is encouraged, as I do in my classes, do we make certain that the parameters for collaboration are clear to the students? Do we provide guidance for the use of technology? And are students aware that we really will seek to identify and report concerns that may arise?”

It’s not unheard of for students at prominent universities to use technology to cheat.

Earlier this year, Dartmouth College charged 64 students with honor code violations following allegations of widespread cheating in a sports ethics class. In that case, the class reportedly used tech called “clickers” to engage students during class – and apparently to check for attendance – and students were pretending to be their absent peers. Last May at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York that’s affiliated with Columbia University, students allegedly used their smartphones to pass answers back and forth.

It’s also not unheard of for students at prominent universities to cheat without using tech. Harvard University, for example, was hit with a massive cheating scandal in 2013. In that case, dozens of student athletes collaborated on a take-home exam.

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UPDATED

An upcoming campus screening of American Sniper at the University of Missouri has drawn fire for potentially offending Muslim members of the community.

At the heart of the controversy is a Muslim student activist who declared showing the film on campus would make her feel “unsafe” and demanded an “apology and explanation” as to how and why the movie was even selected for Mizzou audiences.

The uproar was taken quite seriously, and prompted the student government to conduct a meeting to determine whether the flick should be shown.

“This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind,” student Farah El-Jayyousi, former president of the Muslim Student Organization, had stated.

She made the comments in a letter to the editor to The Maneater earlier this month, denouncing the decision to show the blockbuster – the highest grossing film of 2014. El-Jayyousi accused the movie of dehumanizing Muslims and glorifying the murder of Iraqis, and referred to Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL featured in the film, as “a killer with no regard for human life.”

El-Jayyousi, described by the University of Missouri’s website as a psychology and women’s and gender studies double-major and social justice advocate, went on to declare in her letter:

I do not feel safe on this campus and for good reason. The fact that this film is being shown, the fact that I have to explain why this film is not only problematic but harmful makes me feel even more unsafe. Showing this film will create an even more hostile environment for me and other Arab, Muslim, South Asian and people of color on this campus.

I am requesting that this film not be shown and that it either be replaced with a film that does not glorify violence or support existing systems of domination and oppression, or an event addressing “American Sniper” and similar films and media texts using a critical lens. This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind.

Lastly, I would like to clarify that this is not an attempt at censorship but an affirmation of my right to feel safe in my body and identity wherever I may be, including this campus. Freedom of speech should not come at the expense of anyone’s humanity and right to be viewed, talked about and treated with basic respect and dignity.

I am asking that this film not be shown and that an official, public apology and explanation be issued by all parties involved in approving the screening of American Sniper on Mizzou’s campus.

After its publication, the student government stated it received “numerous letters from students asking for the film to be cancelled.”

The Missourian reported that “many took offense to the article … [and] a common thread in the debate is the tension between free speech and a student’s right to feel safe on campus.”

The controversy prompted the student government to meet last week to discuss whether the screening should continue.

“At this moment we have not made a decision as to whether we are going to cancel the film or not,” Missouri Students Association President Payton Head had said at the time.

On Friday, after it met with “veterans and members of the Muslim community,” the students association finally weighed in, saying the movie will be shown as originally planned on April 17 and 18 – but promised to have some sort of event to help “cultivate an inclusive campus climate.”

“Throughout our discussion, many opinions were expressed both for and against showing this film on campus,” the student government stated. “MSA and other student organizations will utilize the screening to create new conversations about the issues presented in the film. We will use these conversations to help cultivate an inclusive campus climate.”

“Additional programming to educate the campus on these issues will be announced as plans come together.”

CORRECTION: The headline has been changed to reflect that only one Muslim student, the former president of the Muslim Student Organization, wrote a letter to the editor of The Maneater protesting the campus screening of American Sniper. The rest of the article has been updated to reflect that the student government reached out to members of the Muslim community in response to the student’s letter.

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OPINION

You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag, and forever in peace may you wave; you’re the emblem of, the land I love, the home of the free and the brave

“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” — Barack Obama, October 30, 2008

When you look at the flag, what do you see? When you gaze upon its strong red, crisp white and deep blue stars and stripes, what comes to mind?

The millions of men and women who have given their lives to defend freedom and democracy over the centuries? The ideals it represents? Freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to a fair trial, the right to be a free people – to vote for our leaders, to worship, to strive toward greatness.

The American flag is a symbol of distinction, of indomitable human spirit and God-given rights. That is what I think of when I see it wave.

But there are those who hate the American flag. Who despise all it stands for. I don’t profess to understand these people. I honestly have no idea where their hatred and vitriol comes from.

All I know is that they are fundamentally transforming our great nation from the inside out.

Leftist professors, dozens of them up and down the state of California, have just signed their name in support of the notion of banning the American flag on campuses.

The letter stated that “nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia,” and went on to refer to the flag as “paraphernalia of nationalism … used to intimidate.”

To them, the American flag is propaganda, a hateful tool of some sort. They are blinded by their disdain for their own country.

Earlier this month, six misguided student government members at UC Irvine voted to ban hanging the American flag around some parts of campus. Their resolution claimed the stars and stripes is offensive and divisive. Of course they did – they are taught as much by their professors.

Their claim that banning the American flag creates a “safe, inclusive space for all individuals” flows naturally from their instruction. They don’t even see the problem with it.

Yes, the outrage over the vote was fast and furious, and the decision has been overturned. And several committee members who voted to approve the ban have also since apologized, saying they did not see the “greater implications” of their decision.

But are we really surprised that this even happened? Just last month the student government that represented the entire UC system voted to divest from America, citing alleged human rights violations by America such as drone strikes that have killed civilians, and claiming the country’s criminal justice system is racist, among other accusations.

Students are being taught to hate America, by their professors. These votes to divest from the U.S., to ban the American flag on campus, these are just manifestations of that education.

And so here comes professors to the defense of the vote and arguing that yes, in fact, the American flag should be banned on campus. Campus Reform reports that a letter signed by more than 60 professors endorsed as much. The letter states:

We write to support the six members who offered the resolution to remove national flags from the ASUCI lobby. The university ought to respect their political position and meet its obligation to protect and promote their safety. The resolution recognized that nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia, and that the paraphernalia of nationalism is in fact often used to intimidate. This is a more or less uncontroversial scholarly point, and in practice the resolution has drawn admiration nationally from much of the academic community. In fact, the resolution’s perspective has been completely borne out by recent events. Over the weekend, UCI has been inundated with racist, xenophobic comments and death threats against the students from people who are, precisely, invested in the paraphernalia of nationalism. UCI’s official Facebook page, for example, has filled up with violent and racist remarks. Its official moderator, representing UCI, has neither repudiated the comments nor deleted them–even the death threats. We are afraid that Chancellor Gillman’s response will have the effect of licensing further harassment. We admire the courage of the resolution’s supporters amid this environment of political immaturity and threat, and support them unequivocally.

Yes, people were outraged. No excuse for death threats or “violent and racist remarks.” However, the same flag that protects students’ and professors’ right to spit on it also protects people’s right to angrily defend it.

The bottom line is this: Barack Hussein Obama is not the only one working to fundamentally transform the United States of America. He has an army of scholars helping him.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix (@JenniferKabbany)

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Bad news for millennials – and America. A new report claims they fall short in a variety of academic and job-skill categories compared to their counterparts from 23 other countries.

“Far too many are graduating high school and completing postsecondary educational programs without receiving adequate skills,” the report states. “Millennials may be on track to be our most educated generation ever, but they consistently score below many of their international peers in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments.”

In writing on the report, Fortune notes that “not only do Gen Y Americans lag far behind their overseas peers by every measure, but they even score lower than other age groups of Americans.”

“Take literacy, for instance. American Millennials scored lower than their counterparts in every country that participated except Spain and Italy. (Japan is No. 1.) In numeracy, meaning the ability to apply basic math to everyday situations, Gen Yers in the U.S. ranked dead last. Okay, but what about making smart use of technology, where Millennials are said to shine? Again, America scored at the bottom of the heap, in a four-way tie for last place with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland.”

The report, “America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future,” was conducted by researchers at the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service company.

“If we expect to have a better educated population and a more competitive workforce, policy makers and other stakeholders will need to shift the conversation from one of educational attainment to one that acknowledges the growing importance of skills and examines these more critically,” writes Irwin Kirsch, director of ETS’s Center for Global Assessment, in the report’s preface.

Read more at Fortune.com.

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A Muslim college in Northern California has been given accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, becoming the first accredited Muslim college in America.

The approval letter from the association to the Berkeley-based college states the school has been given “initial accreditation,” adding the institution may confer an accredited “Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Law and Theology” at this time.

The association also commended Zaytuna College for its work to obtain accreditation, saying the label “adds value” to institutions while also providing “accountability.”

Zaytuna’s founders have praised the decision.

“Five years ago, we introduced an undergraduate liberal arts program inspired by the idea of restoring the holistic education that had been offered in the great teaching centers of Islamic civilization,” President Hamza Yusuf stated on the school’s website. “Today, Zaytuna’s accreditation roots this vision in a reality recognized within American higher education. It gives our community its first accredited academic address in the United States. And we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come.”

The March 8 announcement from the school noted the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and also accredited Zaytuna’s neighbors: Stanford University and UC Berkeley.ZCinside

The college describes its mission as “grounding students in the Islamic scholarly tradition as well as the cultural currents and critical ideas shaping modern society.”

Hatem Bazian, a senior lecturer of near eastern studies and ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, praised the development on The Berkeley Blog, saying that “at a time of such extreme negative news cycle focusing on Muslims, the initial accreditation vote is a most positive development for a community that has been battered for more than a decade.”

Bazian said he co-founded Zaytuna College along with Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir.

“What is unique about Zaytuna College is a curriculum that re-centers Muslim intellectual pursuit in the contemporary world, with a robust and broad conceptualization of Adab which ‘includes decency, comportment, decorum, etiquette, manners, morals, proprietary, and humaneness,'” he stated. “The purpose of Zaytuna education (and I would argue of Muslim intellectual pursuit) is to bring forth a conscious human being possessing agency that is directly and foundationally connected to the Divine.”

The school’s website states that the institution first offered a “summer Arabic intensive, a two-month, residential language course,” then its undergraduate program welcomed its inaugural freshman class in the fall 2010.

“In the ensuing years, Zaytuna College continued to refine its academic identity, rooting itself firmly in the American liberal arts tradition,” the website states. “By 2012, it also secured a flagship building for its permanent campus atop Berkeley’s famed ‘Holy Hill,’ an academic neighborhood named for the host of religious colleges that have made their homes there.”

Zaytuna College conferred its first undergraduate degrees to its initial students last spring, its website states.

“Arriving into America’s academic space will translate to Zaytuna being a recognizable and a critical partner in shaping higher education in the period to come,” Bazian added. “Higher education is going through a profound transformation, driven by economic imperatives, information technology advancement and corporatization and commodification of knowledge being the pinnacle of the value pyramid.”

“An accredited institution makes it possible to open many doors and creates local, regional, national and international academic relations. In a short period of time, Zaytuna College will be be ready to welcome students from across the globe and provide the much-needed context to understanding Muslim circumstances in the West, as well as provide diverse opportunities to engage in conversations with faith and civil society partners that are dedicated to seeing and bringing forth a different world.”

The left-leaning Think Progress reports the school’s founders have “been the subjects of minor controversy in decades past, but have become passionate defenders of moderate Islam in recent years, with Yusuf and Shakir often traveling together to give talks to Muslim students across America denouncing extremism.”

“According to a 2006 New York Times profile of Yusuf and Shakir, they reportedly see Islam not as a monolithic entity, but a tradition that ‘is open to a diversity of interpretations honed by centuries of scholars,'” Think Progress reports. “The Times also reported that Yusuf hosted a popular TV reality show in the mid-2000s in which he bussed groups of Arabs across the United States to break down Arab stereotypes about Americans, introducing the travelers to people such as antiwar protesters demonstrating outside the Republican National Convention.”

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