Friday, May 31, 2024

A Great Reckoning

I have occasionally made the point that student protesters and demonstrators, filled with righteous zeal, camping out in their college quads, are going to have an eventual reckoning. Or should it be, wreckoning. 

Given that they are ruining their reputations, along with the reputations of their schools, many of them are going to discover that bad behavior has a price tag. If they did not know it before they started shouting about killing Jews, they are about to find out.

Yesterday, New York Times columnist Pamela Paul took the full measure of this phenomenon, and offered some useful ideas.

She began with an obvious point. These children, even the students among them, have been told, by their teachers and their college admissions officers, that their goal in life should be to fight for social justice.

They were not taught how to think, but were told to engage in political action. That might mean shutting down classrooms. It might mean preventing Jewish students from going to class. It might mean screaming themselves silly over the river and the sea.

College administrators, especially those of a more radical leftist bent, are hoist on their own petard. They made their bed and now they are obliged to lie in it:

Across the curriculum, from the social sciences to the humanities, courses are steeped in social justice theory and calls to action. Cornell’s library publishes a study guide to a 1969 building occupation in which students armed themselves. Harvard offers a social justice graduate certificate. “Universities spent years saying that activism is not just welcome but encouraged on their campuses,” Tyler Austin Harper noted recently in The Atlantic. “Students took them at their word.”

This assumes that these academic bureaucrats had something like a flicker of an idea about what they were proposing. One understands why so many of them feel obliged to coddle and swaddle the revolutionary bands. The students are doing what they were taught to do. 

And now for the reckoning. Not merely on those campuses where young radicals have been punished for disrupting the proceedings, but out in the real world, where more and more hiring officers have decided that they do not want to hire those who participated.

Anti-Semitism might be all the rage on college campuses, but it is certainly not embraced by corporate America, or even legal America.

Paul explained:

In November, two dozen leading law firms wrote to top law schools implying that students who participated in what they called antisemitic activities, including calling for “the elimination of the State of Israel,” would not be hired. More than 100 firms have since signed on. One of those law firms, Davis Polk, rescinded job offers to students whose organizations had signed the letter Ackman criticized. Davis Polk said those sentiments were contrary to the firm’s values. Another major firm withdrew an offer to a student at New York University who also blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 attack. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law urged employers not hire those of his students he said were antisemitic.

Surely, the situation would look worse if everyone could speak openly and freely about their preferences. One understands that announcing something that looks like prejudice risks litigation, and many people would rather lie to surveys than suffer litigation.

Paul wrote:

Two partners at corporate law firms, who asked to speak anonymously since other partners didn’t want them to talk to the media, told me that participating in this year’s protests, especially if it involves an arrest, could easily foreclose opportunities at their firm. At one of those firms, hiring managers scan applicants’ social media histories for problems.

As for what employers are looking for, they want people who can get along and fit in. Happily enough, I have written a book about that. 

She writes:

Also, employers generally want to hire people who can get along and fit into their company culture, rather than trying to agitate for change. They don’t want politics disrupting the workplace.

Naturally, sentient college students are cleaning up their social media accounts. It is not very easy to discover who was manifesting and who was doing schoolwork. 

Hiring officers have therefore been reduced to a secondary consideration-- stereotyping. Certain students were more likely to be waving PLO banners. Some were less likely to do so.

Of course, this sometimes correlates with a consideration regarding which students were more likely to have been hired to fill diversity quotas. 

And then, reputational considerations is going to be applied to schools themselves. One hears, anecdotally, that local parents are looking beyond the Ivy League, to favor schools in the South. One understands that hiring managers are probably using the same calculus:

For decades, employers used elite colleges as a kind human resources proxy to vet potential candidates and make their jobs easier by doing a first cut. Given that those same elite schools were hotbeds of activism this year, that calculus may no longer prove as reliable. Forbes reported that employers are beginning to sour on the Ivy League. “The perception of what those graduates bring has changed. And I think it’s more related to what they’re actually teaching and what they walk away with,” a Kansas City-based architectural firm told Forbes.

So, the students learned their lessons well. Those who have been saying that university faculties have been overrun with tenured radicals, who have made it their mission to ruin students’ minds, seem now to feel vindicated-- regrettably.

The toughest lesson for this generation may be that while they’ve been raised to believe in their right to change the world, the rest of the world may neither share nor be ready to indulge their particular vision.

So, the situation in the Middle East has exposed the appalling failures of some of our great educational institutions. Or should I say, formerly great educational institutions.

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1 comment:

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

A well said evaluation of the situation, sir!