Thursday, October 19, 2017

more on Roaming Millennial and the Lafayette debacle

The excerpts pretty much speak for themselves. While I do agree there was some pretty questionable behavior on behalf of some the students in the video, some of Roaming's generalizations about the academy, on the other hand, aren't entirely accurate - at least as she presents many of those generalizations in her video where they are intended as a critique of college, college students, or the academy at large.  It's one thing to judge one "campus bubble" based on some ridiculous behavior as enacted by some of its students, but another to extend that critique to the academy or to college students (and professors) overall. Moreover, Roaming makes the statement that if one "literally" (why is everything always phrased as "literally," by the way) steps off campus into the outside town - incidentally where Moravian College is nearby by the way - and then speaks to "non-academics," one would find that they would be speaking to "Trump-supporters." If we are speaking in literal terms, stepping off of Lafayette's campus places one in Easton, Pennsylvania - a population that did not largely vote for Trump. This is why it is dangerous to bandy about the term "literally."

As Moravian College is also in Northampton County I would like to venture the claim that my students would not behave like some of those students did in the video despite their possible political differences.

In her response-video Roaming then continues to characterize "college students" and their lack of ability to martial statistics (within arguments or lack thereof). Again, such may be true of those students - but most definitely not mine. I know for a fact that my students in preparing for the ethics bowl, for example, talk about numbers but do so intelligently and without falling prey to emotion. Being philosophically trained, they know better.

I think it would be fruitful for Roaming to come to Moravian College campus and chat with our ethics bowl team if only because of the environment within which productive discourse might occur, but also because of the nature of those engaging in the exchange of ideas (good students, open and honest discussion).  Here I would think there would be a positive, open, and kind environment conducive to discourse and the exchange of ideas. Meaning, if anything, the environment and the mode of discourse available between she and the students would be de-politicized to the extent that the focus would be upon the values, issues, and arguments at stake rather than upon (or being about) hurt feelings provoked by irrationalism and ad hominem attacks. In essence, then, we would be re-routing our understanding of the politicization of feelings versus arguments, productive discourse and debate versus unsupported statements of belief and opinion, and the practice of courtesy and charity in the course of debate and discussion over expression of belief and opinion at any cost. Thus the conditions of discourse are observed to be just as important as the nature of any productive discourse itself.  Finally, let me close by saying I am not saying our college or students are better than any other; I am only mentioning that I think Moravian's students are among those who value productive dialogue as much as anyone else. If someone thinks that all local college students in the area of Lafayette act similarly as to some of those in the video then I would urge them to reconsider.

So, the invitation is still open if Roaming Millennial would like a re-introduction to the area through another local college and hopefully a more suitably behaved and philosophically rigorous set of interlocutors.