It’s now a trifecta of political correctness at the expense of sanity—and also justice—at Wesleyan University.
The very latest was the “Halloween Checklist,” a poster that invited students at the elite liberal-arts college in Middletown, Conn., to ask themselves: “Is your costume offensive?” The answer was “yes” if the costume tended to “mock religious or cultural symbols such as dreadlocks, headdresses, afros, bindis, etc.,” or it attempted to “represent an entire culture or ethnicity,” or to “trivialize human suffering, oppression, and marginalization such as portraying a person who is homeless, imprisoned, a person with disabilities, or a person with mental illness.” Students wondering if it was OK for Halloween to wear an orange jumpsuit (not nice to prisoners) or Tyrolean lederhosen (a slur on Austrians) were advised to call one of six different campus counselors, ranging from the diversity office to Residence Life for advice on how not to tread on sensitive toes.
The checklist followed on the heels of a unanimous Oct. 18 vote by Wesleyan’s student government to cut funding for the Argus, the college’s primary student newspaper. In September the Argus had published a column by a conservative staffer criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement, not for its opposition to perceived police brutality to blacks, but for some of its members’ rhetoric that seemed to encourage anti-cop violence. The $17,000 budget cut to the paper, which already publishes only twice a week to begin with, followed demands by Black Lives Matter and other progressive student groups for mandatory re-education classes for Argus staffers and threats by those groups to “recycle”—that is, destroy–copies of the paper if the Argus failed to comply with their demands.
Shortly before that, Wesleyan succeeded in getting rid of all three of its fraternity houses, decertifying them as approved campus housing for undergraduates. One of the Greek houses, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), had resisted (and is currently suing over) the administration’s September 2014 mandate requiring the houses to admit women members, which DKE maintains would violate its national charter and also its historic all-male identity. Wesleyan suspended the other two frats, Beta Theta Pi and Psi Upsilon, after an apparently intoxicated female fell out of an upper-story window at the Beta house in 2014 and allegations of drug-dealing surfaced at the Psi U house this past summer.
So—no more fraternities, a crippled student newspaper, and draconian guidelines intended to curb the slightest manifestation of irreverent humor at Halloween. Wesleyan has checked all the boxes for political correctness, and may be checking out as a major university.