I have no sympathy for the delicate flowers of academia.
The story of higher ed since the time of my graduation has been more expense, less autonomy, dimmer prospects. Universities have become ever more of an essential for high school grads if they want any kind of a future, but that future has never been bleaker.
Meanwhile, conservatives are assaulting universities as liberal hotbeds of treason and no fucking wonder - with conservatism becoming the brand of ignorance and vindictiveness, the people who lean conservative are staying away from college (let's mention in passing that they're also the least likely to be able to afford it).
The mission of any college professor is to educate. The mission of any college is to provide education. By selecting speakers known to be conservative and inflammatory to the point of irritation and then giving them a podium and an auditorium, the colleges are slapping their students in the face - "eat your vegetables, we're sanctioning naziism now."
This wasn't a round table featuring Charles Murray. This wasn't a debate between Charles Murray and David Graeber. This was sit down, shut up, and pay to listen to Charles Murray tell you your failure is your own goddamn fault. Considering the infantilization foisted upon undergrads everywhere, the utter powerlessness of the average undergrad, the only thing that's going to happen is anger and aggression.
THAT is the power dynamic your average undergrad is facing. Wanna make a political statement? Pepperspray to the face. And we wonder why they're all up in arms about "safe spaces" and a bunch of academics that literally cannot be fired spin up about their freeze peaches when they can't invite whoever the fuck they want with those kids' tuition money.
Two quotes, the first from the New York Times op-ed:
What alarmed me most, however, was what I saw in the eyes of the crowd. Those who wanted the event to take place made eye contact with me. Those intent on disrupting it steadfastly refused to do so. They couldn’t look at me directly, because if they had, they would have seen another human being.
The second from Murray's own account:
I stood at the podium. I didn’t make any attempt to speak—no point in it—but I did make eye contact with students. I remember one in particular, from whom I couldn’t look away for a long time. She reminded me of my daughter Anna (Middlebury ’07) — partly physically, but also in her sweet earnestness. She looked at me reproachfully and a little defiantly, her mouth moving in whatever the current chant was. I’m probably projecting, but I imagined her to be a student who wasn’t particularly political but had learned that this guy Murray was truly evil. So she found herself in the unfamiliar position of activist, not really enjoying it, but doing her civic duty.
If they don't look at you, it's because they don't like what they're doing. If they do look at you, it's because they don't like what they're doing. I mean, the arrogance. Average room'n'board at a public US college is $10k a year. Average tuition at a public US college is $9k. The average starting salary for college grads is $50k a year, of which only 58% will have within six months. Realistically speaking, these are kids (most of them not of legal drinking age) who are burning six months' salary every year to be told what to do and when to do it and how DARE they demand that their environment be respected?
If Prof. Stanger actually wanted kids to engage with the thoughts of Charles Murray, she should have given them a champion to ask the questions they won't be allowed to ask, to raise the points they won't be given a chance to raise, to gain some empowerment in the deeply disempowering environment of the lecture hall. So either she didn't, or she sucks as an educator. Seeing as how she spent the afternoon confronting an angry mob and ended up with a concussion, I suspect she sucks at lots of things. I mean, look at the arrogance:
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — There’s nothing like a little violence to focus the mind. I am the Middlebury College professor who ended up with whiplash and a concussion for having the audacity to engage with the ideas of Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Engage with him all you want. It's when you decide you need an auditorium and ticket sales that you cross a line.