After almost two years, Columbia University graduate Benjamin Sweetwood has revealed “a dark and shameful secret” about his tenure at the school: He once committed “gender misconduct” in Chinese class … by referring to himself as “handsome.”
An admitted jokester, Sweetwood writes in The Tab that “One somber autumn morning, I took the opportunity to call myself handsome in Chinese. Wǒ hěn shuài, I uttered in my unchecked malevolence and without care for cultural norms or general moral principles.
“The next day during class, my teacher asked me to stay after class. I obliged, and I certainly felt it was not for her to tell me how brilliant I am. The teacher sat next to me on a bench outside the classroom and told me that I made a comment in class that upset someone. Consequently, I had been reported to the Gender-Based Misconduct Office.”
Sweetwood notes that his professor wasn’t offended, that she thought it was funny.
It didn’t matter; later that day he was officially informed of his “offense” by his dean.
I met with my dean the next afternoon. She told me the same thing my professor had: I had called myself handsome and this was unacceptable. My dean tried to make me agree that I would never do this again. I flat out refused. I laid into her about how upset I was about the situation and I said something along the lines of: “If you’re asking me to not be myself, then I guarantee I will end up back in your office again.”
We are doing the wrong thing and going after the wrong people in the name of fairness and justice, I told her. By the end of our conversation, she told me: “Even if I agree with you, I obviously couldn’t say anything…” I had the impression that she was too scared to challenge Columbia’s extreme politically correct culture.
I was then put in touch with a case manager from the Gender-Based Misconduct office, who set up a “re-education” meeting in his office for the following Monday. I remember this frightening little office was located outside of Columbia’s west gates, where no one can hear you scream (it may have moved since then).
I walked into the office, and as you might have guessed it was filled with delinquents of all sorts. Clearly this office had a purpose. Oh c’mon, you didn’t really believe that did you?
Benjamin goes on to point out (quite correctly) that utter idiocy such as this “trivializes” real issues like sexual harassment and assault.
Thankfully, he didn’t submit to his “re-education”: “[…] I didn’t change a damn thing about my personality to please a single easily-offended mindless drone.”
“Later that week, in Chinese class when my teacher was having us use a new sentence structure to talk about things that make us upset, my sentence was: ‘I get upset when I get reported to Gender Misconduct by my classmates’ […]”