Posted at 11 a.m. Feb. 6, 2017

Safe spaces, mob mentality, have no place on campuses

“Because tests are standardized, you can’t measure with any real degree of accuracy. Individual intelligence is very complex.”

Dave Zwonitzer

English, humanities and philosophy instructor

American college campuses were once the epicenter of learning and expanding the minds of young men and women all over the country. They were bastions of higher learning and critical thinking, but in recent years trends toward standardized testing, intellectual homogeneity and politically correct culture have infiltrated college campuses.

College used to be about learning, challenging preconceived ideas and expanding students’ knowledge about the world and universe around them, not memorizing lists or buying into radicalized ideas.

Tests have always existed in the academic environment but since standardized testing was pushed through in the U.S., the amount of testing has drastically increased. Many students have major anxiety and added stress simply from knowing they must take a test. Flag Raising Some even lose sleep, start failing in their academic pursuits or drop out altogether.

According to Dave Zwonitzer, Laramie County Community College English, humanities and philosophy instructor, standardized testing may not accurately measure intelligence.

”Because tests are standardized,” Zwonitzer said, “you can’t measure with any real degree of accuracy. Individual intelligence is very complex.”

Zwonitzer also raised concerns about money being too influential on the industry.

“There’s a lot of money being made,” Zwonitzer said. “So at some point I think it’s a legitimate question to ask; is the primary motive of these testing companies to actually do what they say they’re doing or is their primary motive to make money?”

Standardized testing is designed to rank students, not rate their ability to learn or think critically. Regurgitating lists that have been memorized is not problem-solving and therefore is not critical thinking.

Critical thinking is being eroded further by campuses being divided or dominated by groups of students that are absolutely unwilling to listen to others’ ideas and instead stick to various forms of rhetoric and group-think. More and more students come out of college with a “them versus us” mentality that is very detrimental to the basic function of a democratic society. Freedom of speech is the life blood of any democratic society and the foundation western societies rest on. This mob mentality and aversion to contradictory ideas recently led to two professors stepping down from their positions at Yale’s Silliman College.

An email regarding free speech was circulated through Yale in 2015. The author was Erica Christakis, the wife of Silliman College Master Nicholas Christakis. The email contained this quote.

“Free speech should reign on campus. There is no right not to be offended. I’ll say that again: There is no right not to be offended. Even though this is private property, the First Amendment does not regulate private parties, it only regulates the government. The people that run Yale have decided that freedom of speech shall reign, and it should. If you don’t like the costume, wear a contrary costume. Clothing and costumes are expression. The remedy for tasteless expression is more expression, it’s not suppressing ideas.”

She simply expressed her opinions on free speech and it created an uproar among the overly-sensitive on campus. Professor Christakis decided to have an open forum with the concerned students to discuss the matter. But if you watch the video of the forum, it is easy to tell the students care more about ideological homogeneity than any sort of open debate or critical thinking.

Ten seconds into the video, the head agitator of the group of students begins to shout down the professor while the professor is simply trying to explain his position. Then at approximately 21 seconds she attempts to explain to him what his job is. She says it is not about creating an intellectual space but it is about making a safe space for everyone. She also makes the claim that the email that was circulated somehow violates the duties of his position. When in reality, part of his position is to facilitate a learning environment that is physically safe and secure, as well as create an environment where all ideas can be expressed without censor.

The students should be taught critical thinking skills to be able to properly evaluate ideas and determine their merit on their own. This cannot be achieved by letting political correctness run amok, creating safe spaces free of conflicting ideas and allowing mobs to shout down ideas they do not approve.