The national media, and particularly pundits, seem to be seized by a wave of What's Wrong With College Students These Days — exemplified by the outcry over a fight about offensive Halloween costumes, racism, and sensitivity at Yale.
These stories are partly the result of a changing culture on campus, but also a result of shifts in the media business. It's no longer clear what qualifies as a campus story and what becomes national news. Anything that strikes a nerve can quickly go viral, whether it's a fraternity's racist song or a college student's tone-deaf op-ed.
Daniel Drezner articulates this well at the Washington Post in two paragraphs that should be attached to every story about the "new political correctness" on campus:
One of the purposes of college is to articulate stupid arguments in stupid ways and then learn, through interactions with fellow students and professors, exactly how stupid they are. Anyone who thinks that the current generation of college students is uniquely stupid is either an amnesiac or willfully ignorant… As a professor with 20 years of experience, I can assure you that college students have been saying stupid things since the invention of college students.
The difference today is that because of social media, it is easy for college students to have their opinions go viral when that was not the original intent… If you are older than 22 and reading this, imagine for a second how you would feel if professional pundits pored over your undergraduate musings in real time.
College students make all kinds of demands — some important, some immature. That's because they're college students. But it's only recently that it's been so easy for college students to become viral sensations. Perhaps that, and not the students themselves, is what's really changed.