Campus insanity is headed toward The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, which, according to its website, is dedicated to Peter Cooper’s “radical commitment to diversity and his founding vision that fair access to an inspiring free education and forums for courageous public discourse foster a just and thriving world.” Only, when a professor insisted that his students show up for class, one student decided it was time to post a manifesto decrying the white professor’s racism against her as a “POC” (person of color). The student posted this letter on a public board at the school.
The letter reads, in part:
Geoff Kaplan sent me an email expressing his concern about my attendance. I knew that I was going to be late on the morning of the next class and felt anxious about attending because of the concern that was already present. I was going back and forth about whether I should just be late or if I should miss the class. I really did not want the extra attention and arrived to school with enough time to attend the class but decided not to go, which I understand is irresponsible.
When Kaplan took her to task for missing class again, the student wrote:
He was interrogative throughout the conversation, as though I wasn’t telling him what he expected to hear. He opened the conversation with asking me what was wrong. I told him that nothing was wrong… He said, “You’re a young woman of color, so you have to try harder than everyone else, which isn’t fair, but you know…'”
Boy was that the wrong move for a white guy! How dare he try and show sympathy and acknowledge that all those other kids with white privilege will never have to work as hard as this young lady of color. (Isn’t that what the new racial line is? Not according to this chick.)
Hearing him try to explain or mention what he thought my experience was felt unproductive and made me feel like he is holding me to a certain standard based on my identity. I wasn’t comfortable with how patronizing the direction of this conversation was going.
It’s interesting that the word patronizing contains the word “patron,” which used to be a word for a wiser, more experienced person who would take an apprentice under his wing and train him in some specialty and support him in his journey. These days, even paid professors aren’t allowed to show concern for students who skip class for fear of being called racist. Geez. The poor professor didn’t stop his fatherly concern there. The student claimed he said:
You are going to wish, after leaving Cooper, that you had taken more advantage of your time here. You are going to regret not going to those two classes you missed. This is a very special school, you are lucky to be here surrounded by intelligent people.
Boy, if she’d only listen to this good advice. I know I regret skipping all those classes at Arizona State University my first year and bringing home the worst grades I ever got. What this man was trying to say to this girl is right on the money. Don’t waste all this money on classes you aren’t going to, moron! But of course, today’s college students can’t be expected to listen to reason or logic when they can blame all their shortcomings and laziness on raaaaaaacism!
The student confronted the professor at a different time about how offended she was:
I spoke to him the next class and confronted him about how uncomfortable he made me. He was extremely egotistic, patronizing, immature, and dismissive. He avoided the topic of racism entirely and focused mostly on my attendance, completely disregarding the purpose of why I initiated the meeting, all the while making snide comments about my attendance.
How dare he focus on the actual problem (attendance) and not on the made-up nonsense the student was trying to sandbag him with! This guy is so screwed. It probably won’t surprise you to know that she and her classmates organized a protest in response. Here are the flyers they made:
This next one is my favorite. Apparently, asking students to show up to class is “white washing” them, and for POCs to feel sustained and nurtured they must be allowed to play hooky. In a just world, this student who posted the screed against her professor would be kicked out of school for attendance problems so a place could be made for serious students who want to learn something. But instead, I bet the university goes on a months-long “listening” tour and gives all POCs straight A’s for the PTSD this incident will inevitably cause. Go to your safe spaces for the rest of the semester, everyone!
PJM reached out to Kaplan for comments but he has not responded. If he does, we will update with his response.