Are Our Universities Producing Spoiled Brats?

By Michael Brown Published on April 23, 2017

There are plenty of fine universities in America today where the students are challenged and stretched. But all too many schools are coddling their students rather than challenging them, thereby producing graduating classes filled with lots of spoiled brats.

How bad are things on some campuses?

Not only are schools offering coloring books and crayons during finals week to help students deal with stress.

Not only are schools providing safe-spaces where students can go to escape from the conflicts of the real world.

Not only are schools issuing guidelines for campus speech, replete with the latest trigger warnings to guard against microaggressions.

All that is absurd enough.

But schools are now responding to student tantrums: If you threaten to throw a fit, we will back down, post haste. We do not want to get you upset!

In the home, parents know how to deal children who throw tantrums. They don’t give in to the screaming and crying and foot stomping. They hold their ground and they remind their child that this is the way things are going to be, like it or not. And rather than rewarding their child’s tantrum, they discipline their child for such unhealthy behavior.

In contrast, many of our campus administrators haven’t learned how to respond to student tantrums — or even to the threat of a tantrum. We can’t upset our students! And if the threatened tantrum is coming from outside the school, rather than standing up to the few bullies, the university caves in — always, it seems, in the direction of political correctness.

Anarchy Now, Failure Later

What kind of example are these schools setting for their students? And how will their grads deal with the conflicts and problems and stresses of the real world.

Take, for example, the recent uproar at Berkeley over a planned speech by Ann Coulter. Just the threat of protests was enough to shut the event down, in light of which Stanley Kurtz observed that “America’s colleges continue their descent into low-grade anarchy.”

A legal letter from the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation responding to Berkeley leadership hit the nail on the head (with some fitting sarcasm, to boot). “Thank you for conceding in your letter today that UC Berkeley chooses to limit speech as a direct result of the successful misconduct of ‘some of the same groups that previously engaged in local violent action,’” Harmeet K. Dhillon wrote. “In other words, all one has to do to silence conservative speakers at UC Berkeley, is to don a mask and become violent, or place anonymous phone calls to the administration threatening such violence.”

It’s that simple. Just throw the college version of a tantrum and the college version of your parents (the school’s faculty and administration) will quickly back down.

This reminds me of an old Andy Griffith episode about a spoiled kid who always got his way – that is, until Sheriff Griffith got involved. There’s a lesson here for the entitlement generation, which also suffers from of a lack of good parenting. (You can watch excerpts here, with my commentary.)

As I’ve shared before, a friend of mine in the business world told me that it’s more and more common for college and university grads to have trouble on their jobs. But it’s not because they lack intelligence or the necessary academic training. Instead, it’s because they can’t take correction, having been shielded from it during much of their upbringing and education. “You may be my boss, but you’re making me feel bad, which makes you a bad person, since I’m a good person and therefore a good employee.”

Put On Your Big Boy Pants

I may be exaggerating the sentiments, but not by much. After all, kids are being raised today in a “never-lose” environment, where everyone gets rewarded and scores are not kept in sports games. By the time they get to college, the mentality that the “world revolves around my feelings” is deeply entrenched within them. This is the fault of their upbringing as much as it is their own fault, and as things begin to implode on our campuses, it’s high time for change.

What’s really unfortunate is that there are so many fine young people on our campuses and there are plenty of schools producing fine grads. But this generation is getting tarred by the bad reputation of some of its loudest representatives, and it is for them — the bad apples — that I have a simple word of advice: Grow up.

In fact this word of advice applies to some educators as well. If we will act like adults, young people will follow our lead.

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