News last night, that threats of violence by left-wing student activists at the Claremont Colleges disrupted an appearance by my colleague Heather Mac Donald, was as unsurprising as it was dispiriting. A year and a half ago, when highly publicized protests at Missouri and Yale led to copycat eruptions on campuses across the country, protesters at the schools of the Claremont consortium were especially notable for both their militancy and their unreason, with mob leaders at the five schools competing with one another in the sheer idiocy of their “nonnegotiable demands.” Worse, rather than condemn those threatening to shut down their campuses if they didn’t get their way, the administrators responded to the intellectual thuggery with sympathy and understanding.
As a graduate of the oldest of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona, I wrote at the time of how dramatically the character of the school had changed in the half-century since my arrival on a quiet, conservative campus in 1966; and, specifically, of the damage done by student protesters during my years there. The key event—the juncture from which there was no turning back—was the morning 50 or so demonstrators, including me, surrounded an Air Force recruiter in the campus placement office, chanting and heckling and otherwise preventing him from speaking to interested students. We had been forewarned that there would be severe repercussions if we disrupted the session, including possible expulsion, and we took the threat seriously. So when our punishment was announced, we were almost as surprised as we were relieved: “suspended suspension.”
Who, at the time, could have guessed that administrators, those surrogate-parent figures, were such pathetic wimps?
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