November 12, 2015

HOW A COLLEGE PRESIDENT SHOULD RESPOND: Here’s how Boston University’s John Silber responded to student protests in the 1970s, as spotted by Steve Hayward of Power Line:

Then they put up the shacks. I told the police, “Go ask them three questions: Do you have a title to the property? (They built them on our property, not theirs.) Do you have a building permit? We have to have building permits. Have you got a clearance with the historical commission, because this is a historical district? If the answer is no to those three questions, then you tell them, ‘We’ll give you about 15 minutes to remove your shanty. And if you don’t, you’ll be arrested.’ ” I said, “Now, none of them are going to remove their shanty, so you’re going to have to arrest them. But I want you to be very gentle, and I want you to take them to the paddy wagon singing, ‘It’s just a shanty in old shanty town.’ ” Because one point I want to get across to these students is, I do not take them seriously. This is not some very deeply felt, high moral cause on their part; this is showboating of a very insincere kind by most of these students, and I want them to understand that I see through their pretensions.

I love it — but I wonder how much pushback Silber received afterwards from the parents of that generation’s proto-cry-bullies? In her 2008 book The Death of the Grown-Up, Diana West, quoting Robert Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah, wrote that in the wake of the late-1960s era of protests, “the University of Chicago, which may be the one campus where administrators acted swiftly to expel students who had occupied a building, ‘parents took out newspaper advertisements protesting the draconian punishment visited upon their darlings, thus providing a clue to what had gone wrong with their children.’”

If we haven’t already, I wonder if we’ll see a similar response from today’s parents? After all, as Brendan O’Neill asked on Monday at Spiked, “The ‘Yale snowflakes’: who made these monsters?”

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