Dr. Helen

The "Call-Out Culture"

Suzanne Venker: “Williams College dropped me from its ‘Uncomfortable Learning’ speaker series. Why?”:

Though my contact didn’t give a reason, the day before he’d sent me this email: “Dear Ms. Venker, A quick heads up…We’ve been advertising the event, and it’s already stirring a lot of angry reactions among students on campus. We just wanted to make you aware of the current state of students before your presentation…”

When I pressed further as to why the event was being cancelled (though of course I knew why), he conceded that Williams College “has never experienced this kind of resistance” to a campus speaker.

And so, the school caved….

That I was passed over is not the concern, though. What is of concern, what should be of concern to all of us, is a new kind of progressive climate that pervades America’s campuses. It even has a name: the “call-out culture.”

The “call-out culture” encourages students to see opposing points of view (read: any argument that’s right of center) as potential threats to their well being and forces groups, such as the Uncomfortable Learning Speaking Series at Williams College, to disinvite or shut down guest speakers whose views are deemed by the campus thought police as intolerable.

Some schools actually set up “safe spaces” for students who are overwhelmed by being confronted with ideas they find hurtful. That would be funny if it weren’t so sad.