Stanford should give students an education - not a mental illness.
I am strongly against changing the names of anything on campus. It is not possible or desirable to rewrite history. It is unhealthy and inaccurate to lead students to believe that the only people worth celebrating are those who conform to their political views. Hardly any significant historical figures were egalitarian saints. The world used to be a very different place, and acting like our founding fathers, religious figures and military leaders must conform to today's far left social norms... It's just absurd.
Meanwhile, you see a trend at other schools of kids freaking out and having mental breakdowns because their law professor used the word "violate" (as in, "violates the law"); because someone said that America is the land of opportunity (because no one should feel personally accountable for their own shortcomings); and that Jewish students shouldn't be allowed to serve on student council, because they might have political, religious or other issues with the BDS movement (never mind the fact that, wherever students for "justice" in Palestine goes, anti-Semitic acts against Jewish students follow - and where is the outcry about that? Oh, right. No one cares, because Jewish people aren't "oppressed" enough.)
Each time I read about something like this happening, I have two thoughts. 1. As a psychologist, I feel extremely worried about the mental health of these students. They are clearly demonstrating unhealthy levels of narcissism, self-concern and anxiety. They are clearly lacking in resilience and coping skills. They are unable to regulate their own emotions (and even expect that others do it for them). And they have adopted a scarcity, rather than abundance, mindset. It is hard to imagine a happy, healthy or even productive life for such students.
2. As a Stanford alum, I feel proud that MY school is better than that. I feel proud that we prioritize learning and debate over someone's potentially subjectively hurt feelings. I feel proud that, in a world in which many people don't believe the Holocaust happened, MY school knows better than to try to rewrite history.
What exactly is the lesson you are trying to teach, here? That someone who made massive contributions and sacrifices is still "bad" if you deem one of their actions or beliefs to be so, historical context be damned?
You should really talk to Stanford's own Dr. Zimbardo about this. He has spent half of his life studying evil. He will be the first to tell you that there are hardly any "bad" people. There are people in bad situations, and people whose context, historical or otherwise, is different from ours. Is it really acceptable, reasonable, responsible, or even moral, to reject someone because you think they were "bad"?
Stanford, please don't give in to the demands of a few emotional children, and those who "support " them because they're afraid they'll be called a "bigot" otherwise. (People will go to absurd and foolish lengths to avoid being called a bigot - that's part of the reason September 11 happened. And that was BEFORE social justice warriors started "bullying people out of school" for disagreeing with them.)
Instead, give them opportunities to learn and grow. Give them the mental health resources they need to feel empowered, rather than victimized. Challenge them. Renaming roads and buildings is the first big step to shutting down campus debates; silencing students with different opinions; censorship; and disinvitations.
Take it a step further if you REALLY want to help these students. Reward those who attend talks on controversial topics and ask the speaker tough questions. Punish those who shame the university by screeching, shouting, threatening and swearing at Stanford's invited guests. This is not appropriate behavior for an adult - and it is certainly not appropriate behavior for a Stanford student.
Empower all your students by telling them that you expect more. They will rise and fall to meet the expectations you set. This isn't Oberlin. This isn't Yale. This isn't DePaul or Claremont McKenna.
This is Stanford, and we expect more.
This is Stanford. We don't rename. We don't rewrite history. We support our professors when they teach challenging and controversial materials.
We hold our students to a higher standard.
Renaming committee, you have the power to make a big impact on these students' lives. Don't coddle and indulge them - you would only be setting them up for a dysfunctional life in society.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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