If you believe that today’s college students are hopeless, a glimmer of light has just appeared in the person of Sophie Mann, a junior at California’s Scripps College. If you despaired to read the editorial published by The Wellesley Illiterati you will be pleased to see that Mann can write in clear, coherent English prose. Will wonders never cease?
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Mann reports on a strike called by her college’s resident advisers. As soon as the RAs announced their action, student tour guides made a gesture of solidarity. They threated to “trash-talk their own college” to young people who were touring the college in order to decide whether or not to attend. It's disloyalty run amok.
Mann cites the tour guide manifesto:
Citing “intersectionality,” Scripps’s “admissions ambassadors”—the student tour guides—joined the strike. “In our act of solidarity, the majority of us will not guide the normal tours beginning Monday, April 17th,” they declared in a statement. “As an alternative, we will use our tours as a platform to share with prospective students and families the toxic and frustrating climate that Scripps has created and perpetuates against marginalized students.”
One suspects that the toxic climate involves classes and tests. Apparently these students do not succeed in that climate... so, instead of working harder, they complain. And they blame it on a lack of free therapy. Surely that will improve their grades.
Mann describes their plight:
Scripps RAs, most of whom are African-American and Latina, get room and board worth almost $16,000 a year. They feel their work is worth more. In an April 13 letter to new college president Lara Tiedens, the RAs declare that they’re on strike to “put pressure on Scripps to fulfill its obligation to students” and to “demonstrate the extent of the labor we perform on campus.” That “labor” largely consists of opening dorm doors for residents who forget keys, asking students to turn down music on weekend evenings, and so forth.
Now, the good part:
Then there are the mental-health problems purportedly generated by the “emotional labor” RAs do. The letter acknowledges that Scripps already subsidizes students’ visits to private, off-campus therapy. But the school only pays $75 a session, and even if students can get insurance to cover the rest they must “front” the cost. “This financial burden,” the letter complains, “should not be put on any student who seeks to improve their mental health.” Should a college provide therapy to RAs whom it pays to be the mature authorities in its dorms?
The irony of these “mature authorities” whining about their need for free therapy did not escape Mann. As it happens, the students already receive free off-campus therapy. The school pays part of the fee. Insurance picks up the rest. The problem that has driven these students to the barricades is: reimbursement. You see, they are required to pay for their therapy up front, only to be reimbursed by the insurance companies later.
You can cringe at the indignity of it all. Entitled students are up in arms because they have to advance a payment. They have to wait for reimbursement. Evidently, they have not mastered deferred gratification.
And why, pray tell, do they think that their problems derive from not having had enough therapy? Where did they ever get that idea? And where did they get the idea that they should be given things for free, to the point of not having to advance any of their own funds? How are they going to compete in a world where the ability to whine is not considered a job qualification.
As for the outcome, the college president quickly caved in to these demands:
Ms. Tiedens quickly caved in. She promised to pay for students’ private therapy and to hire a “wellness” administrator.
It sends the wrong message. It allows students to believe that protesting can be a lucrative occupation. College administrators are doing these students no favors.