Diversity and activism do not make us ‘coddled elites’

There are lives on the line

Earlier this week, Pete Hegseth of Fox News called Brown students “coddled elites’“for letting their activism take priority over schoolwork. Here, Alex Daigle ’19 responds.

Dear Pete Hegseth,

I type this from a once prestigious institution, now reduced in your eyes to a thumb-sucking, spineless trash heap known as Brown University. I recently found out that I am a “coddled elite.” What a shock.

Like you, I read the Brown Daily Herald article explaining the stress on students who are heavily involved in political activism. While I can’t entirely agree that extracurricular activities are valid excuses to get out of work, I can say that extracurriculars, especially those which students have a personal investment in, make a balanced schedule very difficult, as you must know.

With this in mind, I need you to do something you’ve probably never done before: I need you to pretend for just a moment that you’re a minority. You can even take your pick of what kind. Imagine you’re gay, trans, a person of color, a sexual violence survivor, anyone really. Now, if you were presented with as many opportunities to assert your rights as this Ivy offers, I doubt you’d let many go without supporting its cause. I have to emphasize, this is a little more important than, say, playing baseball or staffing a conservative propaganda publication. There are lives on the line. These are not just “college protesters.” These are real-life protesters at colleges.

Pete Hegseth. Source: Gage Skidmore

And I’m sure you understand that if your training to become an infantry officer at Guantanamo Bay got too overwhelming for your studies, as nearly all extracurricular activities tend to do at some point, you did one of three things. You either let your extracurricular fall to the wayside, you continued working on your extracurriculars and let your grades slip, or you asked your professors for some leniency in an especially trying time. I don’t have any idea what you chose to do, but I can tell you the most reasonable option is to negotiate how to do assignments and learn the material you paid hard-earned money for, but perhaps on a different schedule than the one laid out by the professor.

But, you might ask, why should a professor show any leniency to someone for what happens outside the classroom? Well, to my surprise, professors are people too. Students don’t sit in a lecture hall watching a pre-recorded discourse and submit assignments to a computer to be graded. Professors exist not only to teach “real, solid education,” but to guide students in their path of education. God forbid a teacher show mercy to a student who is both struggling in calc and committed to having marriage rights (Actually, God does forbid, doesn’t he? Tragic…).

Obviously this hellhole must be filling my mind with mush. I mean, who cares for diversity anymore? Racism ended when Rosa Parks got on a bus or something, right? Just as Woodrow Wilson (one of the most fair and balanced presidents we’ve had with respect to race, no doubt) said, and as you quoted in your dear Princeton Tory, we must focus on the “right thought of the world” (as long as those thoughts are brought to us by wholesome, fair-skinned people, like Santa, Socrates and Jesus, right?).

As white as the Sabbath day is long

I apologize on behalf of all my whiny, coddled friends, to you, sir, who has had to work just as hard for success in this rough and tumble world we live in. I know you mean well in what you say about our education coming first, but I think you missed the target this time, just like that one other time.


An “inmate running the asylum”

Brown University