As Donald Trump racked up state after state Tuesday night and it became clear that the Javits Center’s glass ceiling would remain very much intact, tears began to flow down the cheeks of Hillary Clinton supporters at Yale University, leading one economics professor to make a midterm exam optional for distraught students.
“I am getting many heartfelt notes from students who are in shock over the election returns… The ones I find most upsetting are those who fear, rightly or wrongly, for their own families… [and] are requesting that the exam be postponed,” the as-yet-unidentified professor wrote in an email released by the Yale Daily News.
I have two questions.
First, do these sorts of post-election histrionics only occur on the left? The answer would seem to be yes, judging from the mental health crisis that swept through liberal enclaves after Bush’s reelection in 2004. Conservatives were certainly unhappy in 2008 and 2012, as shown by the frequent predictions of Sharia law and communist dictatorship, but the response among liberals has tended to be much more tearful and widespread. Perhaps the difference stems from the leftist tendency to use victimhood as a means of validation.
My second question is this: If Clinton had won, would the professor have been as generous with a Trump-supporting student who found herself equally inconsolable, believing that Clinton’s victory would mean the loss of livelihood for her coal-miner father or the death of her unborn niece?
As I watched the returns last night, some friends of mine took pleasure in mocking the teary-eyed Democrats at Clinton’s watch party as poor triggered SJW snowflakes, but I wasn’t inclined to join in.
Like many Americans on both sides of the aisle, I was shaken by Trump’s victory. I can’t imagine how much worse I’d have felt if I were a Muslim fearing that I would be added to a database or become the victim of a Trump-inspired hate crime, or if I were a Mexican immigrant with undocumented family members who suddenly found themselves in imminent danger of deportation.
Those Clinton supporters experienced Trump’s victory not as an abstract political event, but as a direct threat to those close to them, and (as the professor pointed out) whether they’re right or wrong to be afraid for their families, such fears certainly justify tears.
If, during my years in college, Obama had given a televised speech announcing his intention to imprison all small business owners in Western Pennsylvania, I’d certainly have cried for my parents. I might even have asked for an extension on a paper due the next day.
To the professor’s credit, he reached what seems to be a fair compromise for all his pupils, traumatized and untraumatized alike, by allowing those who wished to take the exam to do so while transferring the weight of the exam to the final for those that the Trump Train had reduced to the emotional equivalent of Ray Brower.
All in all, this does not seem to be a case of SJW snowflakes shutting down debate and demanding that their delicate feelings be accommodated, but rather the honoring of a respectful request from students who, at least in their own minds, had reason to be upset.
So long as student grief is not weaponized, I have no problem with professors and administrators trying to be sensitive to students’ emotions. They just can’t limit that sensitivity to only those students who agree with them.