At a time when women’s safety on American college campuses is front-and-center of the public policy debate, there’s another form of intimidation that’s not making headline news: The bullying and intimidation of women by other women because they dare to challenge the prevailing left-of-center orthodoxy on their campuses.
Consider recent events at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. It’s a “highly selective” liberal arts college for women where annual tuition, housing, and fees approach $54,000. The college touts itself for “educating women leaders, from medical pioneers to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights,” but the treatment one freshman is enduring is more reminiscent of Lord of the Flies.
As Campus Reform’s Kaitlyn Schallhorn reports, Yvonne Dean-Bailey is a freshman political science major and Campus Reform student journalist who covered a recent on-campus Ferguson protest. She dared to report that an event organizer directed “white folks” to keep their hands down not raised up as a gesture of surrender to show solidarity with Ferguson. You see, because of “white privilege” Anglos couldn’t possibly understand discrimination so there can be no solidarity between the races–real or symbolic. So instead, “white folks” were essentially directed to stand down and shut up during the protest.
The morning after her article was published, Yvonne awoke to a note taped on her dorm room door, which began, “Dear clearly confused classmate.” It went downhill fast from there. According to the unnamed author(s) of the note, publicizing the protest organizer’s directions was, among other things, “completely unnecessary,” “racist,” and “will not be tolerated in any design at this institution.” In addition to the note, numerous anonymous chat-board rants along a similar vein were later posted. As Schallhorn writes:
Nothing says progress quite like a hoard of liberal college students bullying one of their peers because of her conservative values. …
Since the article, Yvonne has been called a bigot, “closed-minded” [sic], hateful, homophobic, privileged, racist, rich, and transphobic. Yvonne’s appearance, character, intellect, and integrity have been eviscerated. …
These women are not empowering each other or honing their own voices. They’re creating a homogenous liberal echo chamber where only the sounds of chosen voices can ring out without fear.
“Kindly take your bigotry and miniscule world view [sic] home with you and leave them there when you go, or consider somewhere else to voice your ignorance,” reads the note from Yvonne’s secret admirers. …
Yvonne says she doesn’t feel safe on her own college campus, her own community, but as she knows, true courage does not bend to frivolous attacks of intimidation.
“Despite this I will continue to be an independent and active voice on campus until all sides are considered,” Yvonne told Campus Reform.
Schallhorn notes that once administrators were reminded of their college’s “strict” anti-discrimination policy by Campus Reform, the Dean of Students invited Yvonne to come and chat with her and the protest organizers. A better approach would be for this young woman to file a formal complaint with the local police (after all, threats and harrassment are still crimes) and skip the formal sharing session. Maybe Yvonne could send a lawyer instead.
According to data reported to the U.S. Department of Education, Mt. Holyoke receives more than $11,000 in private gifts, grants, and contracts per student. With more nearly 2,600 students, that works out to more than $29.2 million.
Perhaps Mt. Holyoke alumnae should show some of the leadership their alma mater touts by withholding their contributions until the college practices what it preaches.