Monday, November 28, 2016

Raising a Generation of Overly-Protected "Bubble Children"

David Vetter, born in 1971 with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)-a hereditary disease dramatically weakening the immune system and incurable at the time-died at age twelve. Spending his short life living inside a plastic bubble that sought, unsuccessfully in the end, to protect him from the world of germs outside, he was dubbed "the bubble boy."

As we look at what is taking place on college campuses around the country today, we are witnessing a similar effort to protect young people from the realities of the world around them. We provide them with "safe spaces," removing any symbols deemed offensive. In shielding students from life's slightest perceived unpleasantries, one wonders if we are not simply raising a generation of overly-protected "bubble children." If so, we need question whether students' best interests are served.

While the clarion call for safe space went out as claims of racism were "being met with a lack of empathy," the call seems to have evolved into one seeking to accommodate students easily offended by any opposing viewpoint.

Ironically, offended students exercising their own First Amendment rights, by loudly complaining, seek to deny the same rights to those holding opposing views. The safe space concept has been abused to the point college administrators unabashedly provide "bubble space" for absurd reasons.

The call for safe spaces apparently ballooned in the wake of the 2016 presidential election as students proved unable to cope with its outcome.

For students thusly stressed at the University of Pennsylvania, a dorm made "Breathing Space" available.

They were offered various stress-reducing activities, such as cuddling cats and a puppy, coloring, crafting or enjoying snacks of soothing teas and chocolates.

Feeling their pain, many professors at Penn canceled classes, turning them into safe space forums "in which students could freely express their concerns for their futures."

Interestingly, an earlier campus poll revealed Hillary Clinton supporters outnumbered Donald Trump's almost ten-to-one. Thus, while Hillary supporters, participating in such classroom forums, discussed their fears about his victory, apparently no similar concerns existed about Trump supporters' fears in expressing themselves within such a pro-Clinton environment.

At Cornell University, students upset over the election results were allowed to hold a "cry in." Students wrote about their "emotions on poster boards with colored markers or with chalk on the ground." Interestingly, at another university, someone simply writing "Trump 2016" in chalk on a sidewalk upset students who claimed they could no longer feel safe.

Even before the election, some universities, such as Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, located only a few miles from the Republican National Convention, felt the need to provide safe space for anyone "psychologically or physically traumatized" by the event.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, with Halloween approaching, the University of Florida made counselors available 24/7 should students feel upset over costumes encountered.

At the University of Iowa, a professor expressed concern a popular item on campus was "conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence," possibly even causing depression and promoting a suicide culture among students.

The offending item in question was the "angry" look frozen on the face of the school's hawk mascot. The professor wrote, "I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages"-something she felt the hawk's appearance did not convey.

The University of Wisconsin-Stout, perhaps acting preventively to avoid the need for safe spaces, dispatched a search team to identify anything impressionable incoming students might deem offensive on campus. Coming across two historic paintings of colonial settlers and Native Americans, the team recommended removal fearing the "harmful effect" they might have. The administration complied.

As one critic asks, "who created these campus whiners?" He notes campus unrest of the 1960s focused on things of great consequence-the Vietnam war, civil rights, etc. But, today, universities are creating "whiny college kids...screaming obscenities or taking over the university president's office...for...feeling slighted...(They are) rebels without a cause."

Such coddling of our college students has consequences, not only for them but for the universities as well.

A psychologist writes, as "college personnel everywhere are struggling with students' neediness," universities are creating a serious problem-"declining student resilience."

Resilience is described as "that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes."

Clearly, by promoting a victim culture to students, colleges prime them for failure in the real world.

University alumni are also disgusted with such student pampering, reflected by a downturn in donations.

Enrollment suffers too as applications to universities known for coddling, such as the University of Missouri, have drastically declined.

As American college students seek safe harbor in a protective bubble, it gives one pause to reflect on their counterparts in the Ukraine. Students there must live every day fearing attacks by pro-Russian separatists seeking to topple their government.

Accordingly, many such students have voluntarily joined the Students Guard-an auxiliary guerilla force trained to take up arms in an emergency. Independent of the government, the Guard represents civilian society's concerns about the political realities facing the country. Professors are responsible for preparing these students for war.

At the Ukraine's Taras Shevchenko National University, a safe space does exist on campus. Students often will stand there, shoulder-to-shoulder, in complete silence. The space is reserved for photos and tributes to students who, answering the nation's call to duty, failed to return.

For Ukrainian college students, no other safe space exists.

Tom Brokaw described America's World War II generation as our greatest. Sadly, most members from that generation have now left us. But, it is probably just as well, for they undoubtedly would be horrified to know their sacrifices have given rise to a pampered generation of "bubble children" unable to cope with life's basic realities.


Colleges Look to Create Sanctuary Campuses for Illegal Immigrant Students

Presidents from at least two colleges have pledged to make their campuses safe havens for illegal immigrant students.

“We steadfastly support all members of our community regardless of their immigration status,” John Kroger, president of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, said last week in an announcement that his college will be a sanctuary campus.

Students and professors at other schools around the nation, from Yale University and Harvard University to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, have pushed for their college to become a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrant students.

“My mom brought me to the United States at a very young age,” an illegal immigrant student at Drake told KCCI 8 News. “We really didn’t have the resources to apply for any sort of visa to be able to come to the United States legally.”

 While the “sanctuary college” definition may differ from college to college, policy demands include items such as not assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement in investigations on the immigration status of students and helping all students financially, including those in the country illegally.

“Across the country, many are calling for their universities to become sanctuary campuses,” Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University in Connecticut, wrote on Nov. 20, declaring Wesleyan a sanctuary campus. “The model is the ‘sanctuary city,’ like Austin, New York City, Chicago, and dozens of other municipalities, which have declared their intention not to cooperate with federal officials seeking to deport residents simply because they lack appropriate immigration documentation.”

Around the nation, there are around 300 jurisdictions at the state, county, and city level that do not cooperate with government immigration enforcement policies, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Over 100 colleges had walkouts last week in protest of illegal immigrant deportation policies for students, the New York Post reported.

“A handful of students on some campuses are demanding some sort of campus-wide policy that shields illegal aliens from law enforcement, but mostly it’s just a protest that is unlikely to go anywhere,” Jon Feere, a legal policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Signal. Feere added:

    "We’ll have to see how this unfolds, but these campuses in many ways are already involved in a relationship with the federal government when it comes to immigration and students, particularly in the case of foreign students. There’s an information sharing process that does take place. I think it will be very difficult for these campuses to shield individuals who are in violation of the law from federal authorities should the government choose to deport somebody."

Feere says these protests and sanctuary campuses are more of a “publicity stunt.”

“I suspect that if we were to get to a point where law enforcement needed to deport an individual on the campus, whether it’s a student or an employee, that the campuses would largely comply,” Feere said.

“For example, even the president of Reed College in his letter acknowledges that he will cooperate with federal law enforcement when there is a direct court order present,” Feere added.

The campus protests have targeted President-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Trump said he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, authorized by President Barack Obama in 2012.

“Undocumented students are currently protected from deportation by an executive order signed by President Obama, which also allows them to work and obtain driver’s licenses,” Fortune reported.

“More than 90 college and university presidents have signed a statement calling for the continuation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” according to Inside Higher Ed. The program is available for illegal immigrants that arrived in the United States before they turned 16 years old.

In the Reed College president’s declaration that the school would be a sanctuary campus, he said the college will “provide institutional financial aid to make up for the federal aid that these students are unable to apply for, such as Pell Grants.”

Students at private as well as public schools, including University of Texas-Austin and University of Wisconsin-Madison, have participated in demanding sanctuary status for their campus, according to Fusion.

“If those are public colleges that are providing in-state tuition to illegal aliens without providing the same benefits to out-of-state citizen students, not only are they violating federal immigration law, but they are penalizing Americans for being citizens and following the law,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “The schools are rewarding those whose first act in coming to America is to break our laws.”

Some colleges have charged students fees to fund a scholarship program for illegal immigrants, created a tuition loan assistance program for students in the country illegally, and offered in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

“These public colleges—as well as private college engaging in the same ‘sanctuary’ behavior—are showing a fundamental contempt for the rule of law, which is the heart of our democracy and what has long distinguished us from the dangerous and lawless places that exist around the world,” von Spakovsky said.


University of Sydney beats Oxford, Cambridge in new global rankings

The University of Sydney produces graduates that are more employable than those from Cambridge, Oxford and Columbia, according to a new global rankings measure.

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings assessed 300 universities worldwide against five criteria: employer reputation, alumni outcomes, partnerships with employers, employer/student connections and graduate employment rates.

It surveyed 37,000 employers and mapped the careers of 21,000 individuals worldwide to determine the rankings.

On this basis the University of Sydney placed fourth worldwide, after Stanford and MIT in the US, and Tsinghua University in China.

The University of Melbourne ranked joint eleventh, while ANU and Monash University made the top 50 globally. UNSW does not appear in the list because it chose to opt out.

The success of Australia's universities in the global employability rankings is based in large part on their industry partnership programs, Ben Sowter, head of research at QS said.

"The 2017 instalment of this ranking illustrates that universities with a heavy STEM focus are generally among the most successful in nurturing student employability," he said.

"This ranking indicates that efforts made by Australian universities to establish themselves as industry-friendly knowledge hubs are paying dividends for their students."

QS or Quacquarelli Symonds ran the employability rankings for the first time as a pilot last year. Universities are permitted to opt-out, unlike in other rankings systems.

Tracey McNicol from ANU's Planning and Performance Management division said "for a university to perform well in this ranking they need to not only engage widely with employers but ensure that graduates leave their institutions with the skills and attributes that are relevant to the needs of employers."

The news will be a boost for the University of Sydney which sits behind the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University in the general rankings such as the Times Higher Ed and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Similarly, in the QS global rankings this year, Sydney ranked the 46th best university in the world, behind Melbourne (42nd) and ANU (22nd).

The University of Sydney's Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said it was committed to providing students with opportunities they need to thrive in the workforce.

"Equipping students with the knowledge, skills, values and purpose to serve society at every level and to lead the way in improving people's lives has been our mission since the University was founded in 1850," he said.


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