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Children in Charge on College Campuses

Froma Harrop on

A favorite quote from the recent campus conflicts comes from Adam Young, a freshman at the New School in New York. After student trespassers were arrested and hauled to police headquarters, he complained, "This is not OK ... We're 18 years old."

Adam, there are 17-year-old Marines.

The pro-Palestinian protestors have every right to rail against Israel's actions in Gaza and in the costumes of their choice. But when facing the consequences of breaking campus rules, many plead innocence by virtue of their youth.

And why do so many faculty members support their expropriation of communal campus space? Because they're children, too. As a former senior editor at Princeton University Press once told me, professors who had never held a job outside of academia tended toward the immature.

When students and outsiders smashed their way into Columbia University's Hamilton Hall, and the school called in police, the university senate, which includes faculty, demanded an investigation.

When an 18-year-old breaks windows on a Walgreens, he gets arrested without controversy. But we are talking about a different demographic, are we not?

 

Not everyone was unhappy at the video of 65-year-old Annelise Orleck getting tackled and zip-tied at Dartmouth College. The silver-haired history professor is seen charging at police and thrusting cameras in their face. It was the performance of her life. Perhaps the cops didn't care to be extras.

New York Mayor Eric Adams refers to the unruly demonstrators at Columbia as "children." So did New York Police Department Chief of Patrol John Chell.

"I guarantee you," Chell said, "those kids would be relieved because they don't want their dorm material on the corner and have mom come pick them up the next day."

Scenes of riot-ready police descending on Columbia's campus may have offered cinematic tension, but not a single soul, including crowds milling outside the gates, ended up in the hospital. Emergency Medical Services probably got more calls that night from the local bars.

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