Monotone Lullabies

Ashley Thorne

All-seeing Argus, the creature in Greek mythology with one hundred eyes, tried not to fall completely asleep. Hera had charged Argus with guarding Io, a nymph whom Zeus had turned into a heifer, from Zeus’s seductive advances. Argus’s many eyes came in handy for the task. Some of his eyes could stay awake while other eyes slept, and he faithfully kept an unbroken watch. That is, until Zeus sent Hermes, disguised as a shepherd boy, to play sweet pipe melodies for Argus and speak to him in a voice of monotone languor. Soon, all of Argus’s eyes were closed in sleep.

Similarly, institutions of higher education love to repeat hypnotic accounts of themselves, intoning vacant language to describe their values and commitments. Will we be lulled to slumber?

So far, the NAS has published six articles based on leads from volunteers in our Argus project. We’ve written about La Raza studies, Safe Space, health disparities, social justice, and more. We are investigating additional information provided by our contacts at multiple campuses. Many of the links sent in appear to contain incriminating information that our readers will find noteworthy. But some colleges, no matter how carefully scrutinized, just don’t seem that bad.

Take Sul Ross State University (SRSU), for example—a small Texas university that provides “a relaxed, friendly environment” and offers degrees in areas such as Equine Science and Meat Industry Management. Dr. Jimmy LaBaume, who teaches agricultural business at the University, volunteered to scan SRSU using Argus standards. His report was drearily uninteresting. One piece of mischief he spotted: this year’s leadership retreat in Mo-Ranch, TX will enable students to “discover their leadership styles, explore multiculturalism, and problem solve with one another.” They’ll explore multiculturalism—should we be worried? Is it a big deal?

Dr. LaBaume found “the most reason for concern” in the multicultural course requirement in SRSU’s core curriculum. Students may choose to satisfy the requirement by taking unsurprising classes like “Multicultural Studies in Criminal Justice” and “Introduction to Women’s Studies.” The multicultural class list is atypical in that it also includes such courses as “History 2302: Western Civilization Since 1453” and “Political Science 2305: Federal Government.”

As of yesterday, according to Dr. LaBaume, the Gay Student Alliance (an official student SRSU organization, although so far unlisted on the website) has begun distributing rainbow-colored “safe place” signs to faculty members. NAS recently wrote about LSU’s Safe Space campaign and the broader Safe Zone movement on campuses across the country. Sul Ross may be joining the nationwide rush to create pockets of safety for LGBT students—even though the SRSU viewbook boasts that “Sul Ross State University has one of the safest campuses in Texas.”

So the university may have some gay rights activists pressing faculty members to publicly endorse their cause. So students have to take three credit hours of whatever the school deems multicultural. So what? These things are not nearly as troublesome as the socialist teachings in U Mass Amherst’s Social Thought and Political Economy program, or the Raza studies programs in Arizona. The ordinary, everyday doses of diversity have become an expected element of university life. Sustainability’s push for social justice, professors’ political advocacy assignments, and residence life’s sensitivity training sessions are now woven into the plain fabric of the campus.

Perhaps the increasing numb apathy about such developments has only fueled the academic Left’s passion for promoting “awareness” and “sensitivity.” But the commonplaceness of multiculturalism sprinklings at universities like Sul Ross State is telling: it means that we expect at least a little diversity on every campus. Sul Ross State is probably the least likely host of political correctness. A large percentage of its students grew up in Alpine, TX, and many of them study animal science. Yet even there, we find that ideology gets at least minimum wage.

Instead of nitpicking about the familiarization of diversity, we’d really like to celebrate that Sul Ross State U is relatively indoctrination-free. Indeed, Small Mammal Diversity, one of the institution’s “research highlights,” is an SRSU project that analyzes populations of various types of mice (the silky pocket mouse, kangaroo rat, cactus mouse, etc.). It’s nice to see legitimate diversity study. Sul Ross State appears an island of relative sanity where political correctness has had only limited sway.    

But we will continue to keep our eyes open, even at comparatively innocuous universities. Who knows? Hermes was once disguised as a shepherd boy. He could always come back as a mouse researcher.

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