The latest wave of “woke intolerance” sweeping British universities is chilling, says Clare Foges in The Times. Newcomers at St Andrews must now pass compulsory modules on unconscious bias. Students at the University of Kent must take a four-hour course on diversity that invites them to accept white privilege means being able “to dress in second-hand clothes”. Cambridge students have been encouraged to report micro-aggressions such as “raising an eyebrow while a black student is speaking”.
This way cultural intolerance creeps. Nervous 18-year-olds, “anxious not to displease”, are warned to correct their thinking from the off. And it comes at a cost later. Employers are looking for self-starters and problem-solvers, “not sensitive souls and problem creators”. This year a magazine editor told The Wall Street Journal he was no longer hiring from Ivy League universities: “If students can be traumatised by ‘insensitivity’ on that leafy campus, then they’re unlikely to function as effective team members.” It puts students off as well. A 2017 “day of absence” at Evergreen State College in the US saw white students and staff asked to leave the campus. The following year there was a “catastrophic” drop in student enrolment – and the college’s budget was cut by $6m. This isn’t good for business or for the young people clamouring for it. “It is the nature of young people to push the limits.” But it is the responsibility of academic institutions to push back.