Education: Ignorant Inside and Out

  1. In an article of The Chronicle, author Todd Gitlin discusses an idea surrounding colleges in that students attend to learn, and in doing so may be suspect to discomfort. Gitlin explores the sensitive topics that typically surround college curriculum, including sexual assault, racism, and mental health, to name a few. Mental health, in this sense, seems to have risen, which is not only seen in the raise of students visiting college counseling departments, but in the opinions of the students themselves. To provide a possible explanation for these findings, Gitlin quotes clinical psychologist John Ehrenreich saying “that [young people] exhibit ‘greater narcissism, unrealistically high self-appraisal, and an increased focus on immediate gratification and on external goals such as money, image, and status.’” Ehrenreich follows this by explaining that distress is not at the faults of the young people, but that they have been generated this way and are used to being above average as a norm. This idea makes it easy to understand why young adults nowadays have trouble adjusting in uncomfortable situations. With all this in mind, the article concludes that the generation that is notorious for thin skin may have many reasons surrounding it. Does this mean it is an insult for young adults to be uncomfortable with sensitive topics, and if so, why? Is there a line to be drawn at what is considered “uncomfortable” and should exclusion from certain discusses only apply to those who are believed to be victims?
  2. In Lee McIntyre’s article “Willful Ignorance on Campus”, McIntyre introduces some ideas behind the debate of sensitivity on college campuses, exemplifying controversial topics such as global warming and offensive Halloween customs. This article focuses mainly on the idea of denialism, where McIntyre operationally defines willful ignorance as, “when we know that there are other ideas out there, but we refuse to consider them.” McIntyre also discusses the concept that people may become so defensive in their ideas that they almost “demonize” the ideas of others. Regardless of the views of each side, all individuals utilize confirmation bias, in that they will search and believe whatever evidence seems to support their beliefs. How important do you believe these behaviors are when taking in information, both in and outside of school? Have you ever caught yourself engaging in confirmation bias, or other types of ignorance in order to reaffirm your beliefs?
  3. Author Fredrik deBoer’s article “Watch What You Say” looks at sensitivity from a different perspective, one which pertains more to older adults, rather than young, new college students. In this article, deBoer discusses the taboo around voicing opinions on the internet, in a day and age where employers can easily find personal information. This issue is not focused only on students, but on faculty too, as deBoer points out by using the example of a teacher getting fired for posting on twitter before they had even begun the job. deBoer then brings in the more recently common trend of protests in college life, and the role faculty play alongside these students, in that no matter the cause or opinion, “they will ultimately be part of the institution, and serve the needs of the institution, rather than the needs of the students.” Do you believe employers, especially at universities, have right to look up, and ultimately hold against, public information about their employees, regardless to the relevance to the job? Do you believe faculty at the University of Delaware are engaged in the well-beings of their students, or simply do their job as set by the university?


Constitutive: Having the power of constituting, establishing, or giving formal, definite, or organized existence to something; constructive.

Demonized: Made into or represented as a demon; (now) esp. portrayed as wicked and threatening, esp. in an inaccurate or misrepresentative way.

Ephemeral: That is in existence, power, favour, popularity, etc. for a short time only; short-lived; transitory.

Taking a Stance

  1. Matthew Renda’s article for The Atlantic, in combination with “After the Fall” and the article by Angus Johnston, bought to light the importance protests play in helping young adults express their disapproval. Renda retells a story that took place at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a historically liberal school set in a historically conservative town, where undergraduate students had formed a blockade on a major highway in protest of tuition increases and financial crisis. The students’ intent was to draw attention, and that they did, as the students had “[shut] down traffic for three hours…spurring response from 85 uniformed personnel and a helicopter” (Renda). The protest sparked support from outside the community, along with emphasizing the power of inconvenience when seeking attention. Since the protest, the university has undergone question in regard to the unfair treatment of these protestors. How efficient is protesting in these situations? Do you believe the outcomes really does more good than harm?
  2. Patrick Harker’s article addresses a topic that seems extremely vital to our lives as of recent; the “ever-rising cost” of tuition at the University of Delaware. Harker explains that though the university’s fees are currently at their lowest, the costs still remain somewhat unbearable. The article examines the flaws in the school’s curriculum, asserting that the manner in which the students select their classes, utilize resources both in and outside the classroom, and conduct the work within their major are askew due to a system which is “teacher-centric” (Harker). From my own perspective, I have been begun to understand the drastic differences that not only schools, but state governments have taken in regard of financial aid in the last 30 years or so. My father, a first-generation American coming from very little money, received a free-ride to Manhattan College in the late 1970’s by simply taking state-conducted test (with no relation to the SATs). To my knowledge, the state has made many budget cuts, and the test are no longer as generous. With this is mind, do you believe universities fairly organize their financial processes? Do you believe you have been “ripped-off” by the university, in any sense of the word?
  3. In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Angus Johnston reports on not only the importance of protests in advocating for better conditions in general, but to give voice specifically to marginalized groups at universities. Johnston discusses the roles college administrations have had over the years, in which the power of the students has dwindled over time. The author brings up a more recent issue within protests; the universities reaction. Johnston states that students “occupying campus buildings were subjected to mas arrest, serious disciplinary charges, and some physical violence”, not to mention the additional protests regarding Black Lives Matter, sexual violence on campus, feminist movements, and more. In my opinion, the author summarizes these colligate issues my very simply stating that “universities as institutions have failed to adapt to demographic changes in their student populations” (Johnston). Do you believe this is so? Have universities unsuccessfully taken into account the opinions and involvement of their students as both pupils and people?

Intolerable: That cannot be tolerated, borne, or put up with; unendurable, unbearable, insupportable, insufferable

Proposition: Something proposed for discussion or solution; a problem, a riddle; a parable

Provocations: The action of provoking or inciting; incitement, impulse; instigation; (also) an instance of this; an incentive, a stimulus