Coddling students is poor education

Daily Editorial Board

Speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, last week, President Barack Obama expressed his concern over what some have called a rising culture of political correctness in American universities. 
 
After criticizing campuses for prohibiting conservative speakers or for removing controversial content from courses, Obama — a former professor at the University of Chicago Law School — said, “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.” 
 
The president’s words have portent for the University of Minnesota. In 2014, hundreds of people gathered to protest a speech by former United States Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, urging the University to rescind its invitation and her $150,000 speaking fee. Ultimately, Rice delivered her speech — but not without protest. 
 
While we understand resistance to Rice’s speaking fee, we feel that the outrage over her invitation was entirely ungrounded. The events of 2014 should remind us that the so-called “coddling of the American mind” is generally the result of popular, not administrative, pressure. In other words, we are coddled from the bottom-up, not the top-down. 
 
To that end, we find Obama’s words prescient and necessary because he said them directly to a student in his audience. Amid widespread discussions of trigger warnings, alternative course content and controversial school speakers, we feel that it is every student’s responsibility to consider what he or she wants from a college education and to reflect on the nature of the world we’ll enter into when we leave the shelter of campus.