Opinion

Trinity’s Greatest Threat is the Student Body

University President Anderson and I agree very little on most issues. He’s an incredibly friendly man who handles everything with resilient grace, but we conservatives tend to be respectfully wary of liberal university officials. Last Friday, however, I gained a newfound sympathy for Anderson’s position when I sat through an onslaught of outrageous demands that progressive student leaders launched at our president.

The school required officers from every club to attend a leadership training called Leadershipalooza (yes, really). The event was mostly mundane, until Anderson made an appearance at the end. He spoke to us with that characteristically calm smile and measured tone about some new plans for the university (renovating Chapman and so forth), and then asked for student feedback. An uncomfortably lengthy barrage of demands followed. Anderson stood with that unflagging smile as students lobbed demands at him that ranged from laughable to truly dangerous.

“One of my professors handed out the roster on the first day and didn’t have a spot for preferred names, and that can make non-binary students feel really unsafe,” ranted one student. Another insisted on gender-neutral housing. Many students brought up issues which Anderson could not possibly address personally, such as a transfer student who complained that her classes were too big, or a sophomore who launched into a diatribe about not being close enough to her professors, or another student who vaguely said she wasn’t “feeling represented.”

Certain students had ample rage but little conviction. One senior educated the room on the importance of doing everything one can to address climate change at all costs, and then complained that the nearest glass recycling bin was too far from her room. Another student said that, despite not being an orthodox Jew, she felt uncomfortable taking finals on Saturday. And then there were the predictable calls for greater diversity, and that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion “isn’t enough.” One student, complaining about the food in Mabee Dining Hall, summed up progressive angst well: “I’m not blaming the Mabee workers… I’m blaming the institution, I guess.”

Anderson’s calmness in the face of that vitriol serves as a good lesson in leadership for conservatives and liberals alike. He prefaced his speech with a quote about how universities can be institutions of white supremacy and then was cannibalized by his own side of the spectrum for not arranging the university around their standards. It has been theorized that Anderson’s affability and willingness to listen are just for show, a way to placate dissatisfied students by giving them the illusion of input. Although I’m hesitant to believe that Anderson’s interest is insincere, we can only hope that was the case at Leadershipalooza.

4 comments on “Trinity’s Greatest Threat is the Student Body

  1. Pingback: Looking Back on Trinity’s 150th Anniversary – The Tower

  2. Johathan Haidt gives a good discussion on this https://youtu.be/snqXOvnHzcQ

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  3. The student who brought up the issue with exams on Saturdays was not an Orthodox Jew no, but she is a reform Jew. Any mainstream Jew celebrates the sabbath on the same day: Saturday. This time is used to worship and pray in temple. Criticizing her for not being orthodox is unneccesary. I think any Christian would be angry if exams were held on Sundays, despite if their affiliation is Catholic or Protestant.

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  4. Hi! I am the mentioned non-Orthodox Jew. I respect you and as far as I know you respect me, so I would like to mention a few things that I think are important for context.
    One: no, I do not keep Shabbat in the traditional manner. That means that I do things like turn on lights, tie my shoes, and carry things outside of the building on Saturdays. It does not mean that I am comfortable being forced to entirely disregard an important part of my religion.
    Two: Last year finals were during Hannukah. It was my first Hannukah away from my family. That sucked. But nobody raised a stink about it because it didn’t keep us from carrying out our practice. If we can work within what works for the university we do.
    Three: Timing. Timing is very important with Shabbat. On Friday nights there is an 18 minute window before sunset for you to light your Shabbat (and, that week, Hannukah) candles. Doing so earlier starts Shabbat and commamdment not to work early. Doing so after the sun has set breaks Shabbat. I was in an exam during that window. There is also a specific time that you are supposed to do the rituals to end Shabbat just after sunset Saturday. I was in an exam at this time as well. This compounded with the specific timing for Hannukah (hollidays always make me more careful about the rules of practice because I check them immediately before) to make my religious observance incredibly difficult.
    Four: I was at this as a representative of Hillel. Specifically, I was there as the religious and cultural coordinator for Hillel. Which means that my job there was as a representative for Trinity’s Jews as a whole, regardless of denomination.

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