As discussed last night with Megyn Kelly (below), there are stories out this week of professors excusing students from classes or even exams due to the trauma caused by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. It is the same response that we saw to the Ferguson, Missouri riots, which I also criticized at schools like Columbia. I cancelled class so that everyone could participate in this historic election. Many of my students were poll watchers and campaign workers. However, we all returned the next day and, even my students upset with the results, directed that energy told their education and moving forward. I was proud of them. We do our students a disservice by reinforcing this modern version of the vapors, where students emotionally collapse when legal or political events do not go their way. Ironically, one of the things I most respect about Hillary Clinton is her fighting spirit. She tended to stand her ground and, when knocked down, to pick herself up immediately and fight again.
One story details how an economics professor at Yale wrote his students to say “I am getting many heartfelt notes from students who are in shock over the election returns” and “fear, rightly or wrongly for their families” and are “requesting that the exam be postponed.” He agreed to do so.
Part of college education is to help shape emerging citizens who need to face adversity and disappointment without being some type of emotional hemophiliacs who swoon or sulk with disappointments. Democracy guarantees rights not results. These students and their candidate lost. That is crushing for many but from that disappointment should come a renewed commitment to their cause. The system worked. Voters have been saying for years that they felt that they no longer counted and that Washington would not change. They wanted an outsider. The Democrats gave them the ultimate establishment figure and a candidate with the highest negative polling numbers of any Democrat. The result should not surprise people. The voters did count this week. They changed things. For the better or the worse . . . only time will tell. Yet, we all remain bound by a common article of faith in our democratic system. When you lose, you pick yourself up (as my students did this week) and get on with it. That is what education is about.