From: nypost.com, by Naomi Schaefer Riley, on Apr 10, 2017
The college crackup is coming. That’s the message we should get after reading about the two different kinds of kids who were admitted to elite universities this month.
Take Martin Altenburg. A senior from Fargo, ND, who was accepted at all eight Ivy League schools, Altenburg had superior test scores (a 35 out of 36 on the ACT, a score of 5 on each of the AP exams he took), in addition to being a violinist and a three-sport athlete.
He wasn’t sure college was even a real option. “Originally my parents didn’t want me to apply to these schools because they thought we’d have to pay full price which, at a lot of these schools, is more than our yearly income,” he told his local paper.
Then there’s Ziad Ahmed, a senior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ, who got into Stanford after he answered the application question, “What matters to you, and why?” by writing “Black Lives Matter” 100 times without further explanation.
Ahmed, who has given a TEDx talk about the impact of prejudice, already had a long history of activism before this most recent stunt. He interned for Martin O’Malley, volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and has been invited to the Obama White House.
And let’s just say getting into elite schools (he was also admitted to Yale and Princeton) was always the plan. His father, a hedge-fund manager, went to Yale. His mother is an electrical engineer-turned-stay-at-home mom.
Not too long ago, colleges were a vehicle for upward mobility; many of the best schools had a significant population of working-class kids who were hoping to be exposed to higher learning in part so that they could do better than their parents. Some of them came to love higher learning for its own sake too.
But in recent years, a kind of sorting has occurred — something Charles Murray wrote about in his book, “Coming Apart” — such that a greater and greater percentage of kids at four-year colleges are the children of parents (and even grandparents) who themselves went to such schools.
A study earlier this year by the Equality of Opportunity Project found that at 38 elite colleges, including five Ivy League schools, more students came from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent.
Sure, these high-income kids got good grades in school — but many also attended the best high schools in the country. They do a lot of extracurricular activities — but their parents have paid through the nose for private coaches, expensive equipment and travel to faraway competitions.
We shouldn’t be surprised many of them see college activism as a way of expiating the guilt that they and their parents feel for being, well, privileged.
College administrators more and more are welcoming such budding activists. But universities reap what they sow. And so as campuses have filled up with the Zia Ahmeds of the world, they have become less hospitable to the Martin Altenburgs.
The Ahmeds of the world act like they already know everything. Recent surveys of college students seem to suggest that their support for the free and open exchange of ideas is limited. According to one by the Knight Foundation, 27 percent of college students supported restricting political ideas they found “upsetting.”
They’re the people for whom colleges construct safe spaces and issue trigger warnings. These are the students who shut down outside speakers and demand that professors censor their lectures.
When someone wanted to know why he hadn’t bothered to explain his support for the Black Lives Matter movement in his “essay,” Ahmed responded: “The insistence on an explanation is inherently dehumanizing.” Even asking a question about this movement — including perhaps its absurd claim that the high black homicide rate is the result of police violence rather than crime in inner cities — is itself offensive.
The Martin Altenburgs are at school to learn, but they’re swimming against the tide. Of the few kids who get into all the Ivy League schools each year, most are immigrants. These are children whose parents have encouraged them to work hard so they can have a better life. Like Altenburg, they look at college education as an unqualified blessing.
Too bad their classmates are turning it into a circus.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
Years ago, college students were thought to be the best and brightest of our young people; our future leaders. I sincerely hope that our future leaders come from other sources because what I’m seeing in college students today doesn’t fill me with confidence, it fills me with concern and disgust.
That young man in the article, Ziad Ahmed, exemplifies the type of student who won’t be in college to learn, he’ll be there to foment protests and preach his activist message to those who will listen. Ahmed was already thumbing his nose at the university when he answered an application question with 100 written repetitions of “Black Lives Matter” (with no further explanation). That was an “in your face” prank that unfortunately won him acceptance to Stanford, Yale, and Princeton. Is that really what our colleges are looking for these days? What are the chances that someone writing “Jesus is My Savior” 100 times would be accepted? Zero, zilch, nada. It’s political correctness run amok.
Almost daily, we read about the snowflakes in our colleges who are demanding this, demanding that, and protest to get the president fired if he/she doesn’t accede to their demands. The inmates are indeed taking over the asylum. There seems to be so much activity associated with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” and protests shutting down speakers that they find objectionable, that there must be precious little time for actual education. Colleges and universities have always been known for education and good times and most graduates remember with fondness their time in those “hallowed halls.” It appears that today’s students are already convinced that they know everything and any additional learning will be restricted to the fine art of whining, complaining, demanding, and protesting.
They are in for a rude awakening. They won’t find “safe spaces” in the real world and dissenting opinions won’t come with “trigger warnings.” Try protesting your bosses’ directives and see what that gets you. They will be surprised to learn that they’ll be forced to do things that make them uncomfortable or they’ll be fired.
Welcome to the real world.