HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Safe spaces and ‘ze’ badges: My bewildering year at a US university. “As a child in Glasgow, I learned that sticks and stones might break my bones but words didn’t really hurt. I’m now at New York University studying journalism, where a different mantra seems to apply.”
The student in front of me, an Australian, found this hilarious: ‘Last time I checked, I was a girl.’ Her joke was met with stony silence. Later I realised why: expressing bewilderment at the obsession with pronouns might count as a ‘micro-aggression’. Next stop, ‘transphobia’.
It was soon obvious to my fellow students that I was not quite with the programme. In a class discussion early in my first semester, I made the mistake of mentioning that I believed in objective standards in art. Some art is great, some isn’t, I said; not all artists are equally talented. This was deemed an undemocratic opinion and I was given a nickname: the cultural fascist. I’ve tried to take it affectionately.
American higher ed is rapidly becoming a worldwide joke. What if the high-dollar foreign students stop coming?