The “Snowflake” Generation: Real or Imagined?

When universities institute things such as “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” they often justify doing so in the name of protecting students’ mental health. Critics, on the other hand, argue that universities are more often protecting students from ideas with which they disagree and shielding them from the vicissitudes of adulthood.

But there is at least some evidence that students’ mental well-being may be a more legitimate concern than those commentators would suggest, even if the methods of addressing it are at times suspect. Analyzing both sides of this divide and weighing the available facts may help universities adopt more rational campus policies going forward.

To be sure, many of today’s headlines seem to give credence to those pundits who decry so-called “campus snowflakes.” In the wake of the recent presidential election, colleges provided safe spaces and counseling services for students “traumatized” by the result. For example, at the University of Massachusetts Boston, students were invited to a “Coping and Balance” workshop to play with “Doggo, the therapy dog.”

Meanwhile, many North Carolina universities were holding final exam “relaxation” events. At UNC-Asheville, UNC-Wilmington, and UNC-Charlotte, students were given opportunities to de-stress by filling-in “adult” coloring books. East Carolina University and NC State University students could play with puppies, and UNC-Chapel Hill offered therapy cats and mini horses.

These cases seem to embody a problem identified last year by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in an Atlantic story titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” The authors argued that campus culture “presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm.”

It appears, however, that such a presumption is not entirely groundless. According to a survey by the American College Health Association, 17 percent of students nationwide were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety problems during the past year, and 13.9 percent were diagnosed with or treated for depression. And a 2012 survey of college counseling center directors found that 75 percent of respondents thought that the number of students with major mental health problems had increased over the prior year.

Nevertheless, some researchers cast doubt on such data because of its often limited scope and anecdotal nature. It’s difficult for analysts to determine the true state of student mental health because of student privacy protections such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Also, sampling biases and other statistical problems may inflate the severity of mental health issues or otherwise distort findings.

Consequently, researchers’ conclusions about what’s contributing to the apparent uptick in mental health disorders vary widely. Some say that increased academic pressure and difficulty adjusting to college are to blame. (Although one counter to that argument may be this recent study, which found that the average full-time student spends just 19 hours per week on schoolwork and 29 hours per week socializing).

Other experts point to social media and the ways it can shape how students perceive the success and happiness of their peers, which in turn can lead to feelings of self-doubt and depression. Upbringing may also affect students’ mental resiliency: “helicopter parents” may be instilling unrealistic expectations in their children that evolve into feelings of anxiety and inadequacy when they face disappointment in college.

But in this Psychology Today article, Loretta G. Breuning, a professor emerita of management at California State University East Bay, offers a different explanation. She argues that rising emotional distress is in part due to over-reliance on mental health services to alleviate natural emotional responses. As a result, Breuning says, individuals don’t learn how to manage life’s disappointments, and often lack self-reliance.

And health professionals may themselves be to blame for the belief that there is a “crisis” of mental instability on campus. Breuning claims that such professionals have overstated mental health statistics to justify requests for increased funding—a sentiment echoed by Jesse Singal in a New York magazine article titled “The Myth of the Ever-More-Fragile College Student.”

According to Singal, “college counselors are so convinced [students’] mental health is getting worse that it’s become dogma in some quarters.” He references a study of a “private, moderate-sized university located in the northeastern United States,” published in the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, that found no evidence that students’ psychological problems had increased over a recent fifteen-year span.

Singal notes that the study’s author found four other studies that had reached similar conclusions: “This doesn’t definitively prove that kids who seek counseling aren’t getting sicker, of course. But statistically, [the study’s author] argues, it’s unlikely that five studies looking at different schools would all come up with null findings if, in fact, there was a widespread increase in student pathology overall.”

The conflicting evidence regarding the state of mental health on campus should give pause to commentators who are quick to brand millennial college students as “snowflakes.” But it also should give pause to university officials: they may be wasting resources to “solve” mental health issues that are non-existent or relatively minor.

For example, at Appalachian State University, students have access to individual counseling, group counseling, and even couples counseling. Students can discuss anxiety management, difficulties being apart from their families, sexual identity issues, and more. Other schools in the University of North Carolina system offer similar services. But are universities spending too much on them? Too little?

University of Michigan researcher Daniel Eisenberg estimates that the average public university spends about $1 million per year on mental health services. But, as Eisenberg notes, it’s difficult to measure whether this is the “right” spending level. Given the incomplete and often conflicting data that’s currently available, the best approach may be to conduct cost-benefit analysis.

Universities should carefully consider the extent to which they will diagnose and treat issues such as anxiety and depression. The results may vary by institution, as well as by student category. For instance, master’s and doctoral students may have much higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression, and therefore command more resources.

Also, higher education leaders should consider that university bureaucrats sometimes have a tendency to self-aggrandize. Student affairs administrators and campus mental health professionals may be tempted to justify their existence—and salaries—by aggressively promoting programs and activities that are hard to defend on their merits, such as the aforementioned post-election safe spaces and over-the-top therapy sessions.

And that raises another point: universities should consider the extent to which they may be contributing to students’ psychological issues. Increased mental health outreach may not be preparing students well for the rigors of college, or for life after graduation.

In a recent Pope Center article, social psychologist Clay Routledge wrote, “Nothing good can come from treating colleges like hospitals, places where sick students come to be quarantined and healed. Instead, we should treat colleges like fitness centers for the brain, places where students learn to build their mental muscles.”

For that transition to occur, schools must strike a balance between addressing the legitimate emotional and psychological needs of their students and remaining true to their academic missions. When schools are in doubt, the latter should take precedence.

  • DrOfnothing

    The term “snowflake” has never been much use analytically, and reflects more on the people who employ it than it does on those to whom it is applied. Given the high cost of college, the poor job prospects, and the general flattening of the American economy in recent decades, one could argue that the assumption behind the term–that _we_ had it so much harder than _they_ do and they need to toughen up–is incorrect on a number of fronts.

    Whenever I’m tempted to become contemptuous of a student body where complaints of stress and anxiety seem rife, I try to remind myself of a few key points about this cohort:
    1.) They’re still teenagers, and therefore, by definition, ill-equipped to handle even mild crises.
    2.) There isn’t a generation out there that hasn’t thought that their successors were “spoiled” and “pampered.”
    3.) Many of the traditional networks of support and community have evaporated.
    4.) We live in a world of information saturation, where every single social misstep can be filmed and disseminated to thousands or even tens of thousands of our peers.
    and, most importantly
    5.) We tend to pay attention (especially in this forum) to the outliers rather than the norm. The majority of students proceed, as they always have, through college from start to finish with only the occasional stumble. Even those that go into “crisis mode” usually just need a bit of back-patting–and it’s often the most ambitious that put themselves under the most stress–and then a slight push to get their motors started again. That’s not much to ask in return for $20-50k+ in tuition per year.

    • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

      Lisa B. Kahn’s work has some hard lessons for us, if we are willing to listen — the initial failure to get a foothold leaves permanent wounds, including worse health, lost earnings, etc., all subsumed under the “negative wealth” problem.
      “The long-term labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy.” Labour Economics 17.2 (2010): 303-316.

      Also, see the extensive bibliography of David Blanchflower at Dartmouth that supports the findings of Lisa Kahn and others in regard to mental health problems:

    • PubliusII

      Many of the things you mention are true enough. But these kids have been raised by “helicopter parents” to think that nothing serious ever goes against their wishes and that they will always succeed.

      Barak Hussein Obama’s biggest problem as a president came, I think, from a lack of real-world (competitive business) experience, together with a lack of personal failure in something that mattered very much to him.

      That experience — failing, then getting up and going on — is extremely important in developing character and resilience in life. And adolescence and young adulthood is the time to learn it. Or you’re fragile forever.

      • DrOfnothing

        Actually, compared to the typical upbringing of a European child from the same social background, US kids are exposed to a far greater degree of harsh competition–in sports, in dress, in social hierarchy–and grow up in increasingly fragmented communities. MC Parents have stepped in where other social institutions have started to fail, but given the widespread prevalence of violence in schools, the poor funding of public education, a teenage social culture rife with alcohol and drug abuse, and the increasing competition for college admission, perhaps this is not so surprising. People who haven’t spent much time outside the US generally don’t recognize how unusual that level of competitiveness and concurrent lack of support mechanisms is. It’s concentrated in the urban MC environments, but can be found across the nation.

        As for Obama, I don’t see how that’s relevant. But for what it is worth, of the recent US Presidents, Clinton, Reagan and Nixon were from lower-middle-class backgrounds. The Bush family is _very_ wealthy. Trump’s family was upper-middle-class (nowhere near as wealthy as the Bushs, more more so than all the other recent presidents). Obama, like Carter, came from an MC background, and was raised by a single mother. Each one has faced their fair share of adversity, but of them all, its definitely Bush Jr. that had the most privileged background.

        • BertramS

          And people who haven’t lived in Asia don’t realize that the US system doesn’t actually have harsh competition. I’ve been living in Germany for the last 12 years and German children are exposed to the exact same things you mention above, competition “in sports, in dress, in social hierarchy.” Kids are kids and there is always the cool crowd, jocks, etc. Social cliques form everywhere – including with us adults at work. My German friends’ kids deal with the same issues my kids did in school. Europeans haven’t built a superior society that eliminates human nature.

          The German school system is different than the US, but I would say it’s more competitive, not less. By about age 10 a German child’s future education path has been determined. They’re either accepted into a school that leads them to college or they are put on the track for an education in the trades that hopefully leads to a good internship. I was amazed listening to a German mother explain that they have to go with their son to a school to see if they will accept him for the college track. Can you imagine interviewing to get into a new school that will determine your career path at 10? It worked out well but they were prepared to go other schools too if necessary.

          In Germany education is handled mostly by the states with little input from the federal government so education varies widely within just that one country. You really can’t talk about European children as if they’re all the same since there are different school systems and policies and laws everywhere you go. Germany isn’t the same as Italy or Spain or Norway or Finland or Britain or…..

          • DrOfnothing

            Good points all around. What kids in those European countries (and Japan, for that matter) are _not_ exposed to, however, is the same level of crime and violence, nor do they witness the same amount of deprivation around them. These are all products of a level of social and economic inequality that simply does not exist in the West outside of the US. Hence my main point, that US children may indeed have more protective parents, but to argue that a whole generation has grown up free of stress and tribulation is simply not supportable. US kids are told, far more so than European kids are, that they should be afraid and on their guard every day about any number of threats, real and imagined–stranger danger, terrorism, school shootings, child molesters, kidnappers, etc., etc. If you want to know the source of their anxiety, look at the culture of fear and the 24-hour news cycle. In London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and any number of major cities parents put kids as young as 7 on public transportation and send them off to school. There is not a single major city in the US where the same is true.

        • PubliusII

          This is ignorant rubbish. Asian kids’ schooling is truly brutal and non-stop — and it shows in their math and science scores. European kids are never passed along through the grades to meet standards set by government and classroom are under control to a degree that was true here 50 years ago or more.

          • DrOfnothing

            I never mentioned Asian education to begin with, and don’t think it is relevant in any case. Those societies have profoundly different expectations at the primary and secondary school level, and university education is an entirely different ballgame as well. But if you want a society that has stressed-out its young people to the point of social dysfunction and demographic collapse, Japan is a perfect example.


          • PubliusII

            Not saying we need Japan-level stress. But urban and suburban kids are catered to today — and above all, supervised dawn to dark — to a highly unhealthy extent, and it shows in this learned emotional fragility and timidity.

            If someone is in college and needs “safe spaces” to cope with disagreements and disappointing election results, that someone is emotionally unfit for college, whatever their age.

          • DrOfnothing

            Hey, I’m not a particular fan of coddling myself, and my own educational philosophy tends towards the tough-love end of things. But, equally, I don’t agree with all this hysteria and hyperbole. Rather than blame teenagers, who have very little control over their lives, I think we should be looking at what messages our society is sending young people, and hold ourselves, the older generation, accountable. Having an infantile, narcissistic president-elect who viciously attacks all and sundry through Twitter-rants is, for example, the worst possible example to set if we want to encourage rationality, maturity, and responsibility.

          • PubliusII

            I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I didn’t give a damn about the “messages our society was sending.” I cared what peers thought and paid attention to the rules set by the parents, which were incredibly loose by today’s standards. Those rules today generally prevent kids from making the mistakes they need to make in order to grow up.

            Obama’s a prime example in point. All his life he’s drifted upward, buoyed because he embodied some enabler’s agenda. Never failed, never had to produce anything to meet another’s standards. But afterall he was born to, raised, educated, and mentored by anti-American zealots. So he is what he is — and he is shortly out the door, to the great relief of all good men and true.

            As for Trump — we’ll see. But from my point of view, this was indeed a “Flight 93” election and I’m delighted by the outcome as well as by his cabinet picks. Also I’m heartened in my election decision by the tantrums the left has thrown since the election. It’s like they are auditioning for the offstage Chorus of Dismay that will accompany Trump’s second-term inauguration in 2021.

            If the reference to Flight 93 is unclear, see here:

          • DrOfnothing

            Kids, and teenagers, are remarkably sensitive the atmosphere around them, on any number of levels.

            Your characterization of Obama is completely unfair and inaccurate. He was not raised by “anti-American zealots.” That is a ridiculous and unworthy right-wing myth, right up there with that idiot Coulter’s claims that all Liberals are “traitors.” What’s next, the birther nonsense? This type of claptrap, I’m afraid, is exactly what’s fuelled the dysfunction in American politics today, and if that is your stance, we will find little ground for rational, civil discussion. As for struggle and travail, no one has had an easier ride than Trump, but as much as I disagree with his policies (does he even have any, beyond his ranting tweets?) I would never call him anti-American.

            As for Trump himself, this is not really the subject of discussion, but I see nothing to be glad about there. In my professional experience, I’ve seen the danger that ignorance and inexperience can wreak on an organization, especially when combined with arrogance and immaturity. I have always preferred a competent leader, even if they don’t share my viewpoint/ideology, to an incompetent one who does. But Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution, foreign affairs, diplomacy, economics, law, international security, and just about every other aspect in which a competent US president requires expertise is vast. His cabinet, with few exceptions, is a parade of exiles , misfit idealogues (Bannon, Flynn), sycophantic enablers (Conway), representatives of the same monied elite he claimed to oppose (Mnuchin), and neophytes (Carson) who have singularly failed to prove they can effectively run far more modest organizations than a US government department. The one notable exception, Tillerson, is in bed with a completely amoral Russian leader who tried to influence the election itself through espionage. This is not a cabinet with which one runs a government, it is a sledgehammer with which one weakens and dismantles it. As much as a less-powerful state may understandably appeal to a sensible Conservative, the fragmentation and chaos that accompany a failed state is something no rational American would wish for. This is what the moderate Republican leaders saw, this is why they opposed him so vehemently (but not effectively enough), this is why they do not want to serve in his Cabinet, and this is why they are already lining up to oppose his nominations.

            We can have this conversation again four years from now, but it tells you alot that _every single one of our allies_, along with the majority of US voters who cast ballots (by a count of 3m), and the leaders of his own party opposed his election. The only exception to this is, of course, Vladimir Putin. So, the comparison to a plane crash is an apt one, but only for his presidency. If you don’t see that the false-flag of authoritarianism that the unthinking right has run up the flagpole so often with Obama is actually a genuine danger with Trump, either you are not paying attention or you are in wilful denial. Our allies see it, our enemies rejoice in it, and even the more sensible members of the GOP itself realise that this is a man whose lack of ideals and overwhelming hubris threaten to undermine our most cherished institutions of democracy. What can one make of a president-elect who won’t even attend security briefings? This is not a man who has any interest in, or ability to, govern. At best, he will be a puppet of his consigliere, who will ply him with flattery and pursue their own agendas while he continues to isolate himself in Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago. At worst, he will be pulled hither and yon by impulse on the one hand and foreign influence on the other.

            If we even _have_ an election in 2020, I will be much reassured.

          • PubliusII

            I see the bubble still remains strong around you. C’mon out — the air’s fresher, cleaner, and freer out here.

          • DrOfnothing

            Let’s table this until June. Time will tell. Freedom is just a word. It’s rule of law and the vigilant preservation of democracy that give it meaning.

          • DrOfnothing

            Hey, my bubble, such as it is, consists of scholars, diplomats, and journalists who’ve worked and researched extensively in both Russia and China across several decades. It’s a pretty well-informed group, and I respect their analysis. They are not prone to panic or hyperbole, they’ve seen leaders of many nations come and go, and none of them are particularly ideological. So when they get worried, I get worried.

          • PubliusII

            One of the things making the air so stale within the leftist bubble is an overreliance on hot air emitted by the Credentialed Class, for whom it is nonsense to say that they are not “particularly ideological”. If they had done such a bang-up job as you suggest, we’d not be preparing to swear in Donald J. Trump as president.

            When one dwells within the leftist bubble for a long time, one of the human senses that gets snuffed out from lack of oxygen is the ability to gauge left and right in the political sense. Because the bubble is unanchored to reality, it can drift freely over the political landscape driven by its internal impulses, while those within it always and forever think they dwell at the center.

          • DrOfnothing

            Um, one of these folks was Bush Sr.’s former ambassador to the UK, and several others are staunch Republicans.

          • PubliusII

            Before becoming the nominee, Trump defeated 16 Republican party would-be candidates, several of them backed by all the power and money the Republican Party establishment could muster in their support against him.

            That should tell you at least two things: (1) he’s not a traditional Republican, and (2) his support doesn’t come from standard Republican sources. So how surprising is it that he’d not look to put standard Republican people in his cabinet and advisors?

            You seem thoroughly impressed by people with credentials from Cool People Universities and by people who follow traditional party lines — or at least you expect that these qualities should and would carry weight with the new administration.

            If the 2016 election holds any lessons for you, it should be that what worked in the past isn’t going to provide a good guide to the future. This is because Trump and his supporters think that a large part of our current problems come from following the policies of the past — basically those since LBJ’s Great Society of the mid-1960s — which includes both Democrat and establishment Republican policies.

            Suggested reading, meant in all seriousness:

          • DrOfnothing

            Impulsiveness, narcissism, ignorance, and arrogance are not qualities I would seek from any leader, regardless of their policies. I also expect a working knowledge of the Constitution, a rudimentary grasp of foreign affairs, and a healthy distrust of leaders who have consistently worked against American interests in the past. Trump possesses all of the former and none of the latter.

            For what it’s worth, I agree wholeheartedly that a significant portion of the American electorate felt alienated from the political establishment. But the thing about democracy is that it only works well when the electorate makes an informed, rational choice and when the candidates demonstrate some level of honesty, integrity, and respect for basic facts. Again, Trump failed on all three counts. He is a con-man who was happy to lie and to appeal to the most base emotions of the mob.

            I am not going to argue with you anymore on this, as we’ve both made our positions clear. Let’s see how our democracy fares in the next four years.

          • PubliusII

            In the election Trump was a gamble. But he was a forced choice for any thinking voter faced with Hillary’s criminality.

            So we’ll see.

          • Steve Long

            Those are exactly the types hired to create a fake reality for the masses.

          • DrOfnothing

            Really, we hire professional diplomats to create fake reality for the masses? Go back to Breitbart, sir, this place is for serious discussion of educational policy and politics by informed adults, not a form to peddle crackpot conspiracy theories and other flavors of fruitcake.

          • Steve Long

            Obama’s mother and grandparents were CIA. His young mother can be seen on the internet sitting on the floor naked in someone’s living room. His father was brought to Hawaii from Africa to meet the mother at University. I can’t prove it to you but you better look into these things as you been totally duped in your views.

          • DrOfnothing

            Hahahahaha. Good one.

          • Steve Long

            It’s funny. You sound reasonable until you talk about Trump. Why is he pushing your buttons?

          • DrOfnothing

            Because there is nothing reasonable about the man. He is a narcissistic, infantile boor who is singularly unsuited to serve as the Commander in Chief, whether one looks at temperament (vindictive and petty), expertise (none whatsoever in government) or even basic understanding of the US Constitution (he has none, as is evident from his repeated, egregiously incorrect statements about both the spirit and substance of our government structure and legal system). He also happily panders to the basest instincts of the mob, has no respect for freedom of the press, and is a compulsive liar. The best we can hope for is that he is the puppet of his closest advisers, who themselves are a mixed bag varying from the competent but highly questionable (Tillerson) to the completely unsuitable (Carson, DeVos) to the ideologically extreme (Perry).

  • Glen_S_McGhee_FHEAP

    Does any of this have to do with the increasing female component of the student population? Has anyone correlated these problems with the growing presence of women on campus?

  • RichardAubrey

    I recall graduating to the draft. Also, those flunking out had the same prospect. Seems a couple of hundred guys were dying in SEA every week.
    My father graduated into WW II, but survived it. Many of his friends did not.
    What would a campus mental health facility do if hardly anybody showed up? Outreach is what they’d do. Once you start this stuff, you have to keep it up.
    Additionally, The Kids have discovered that threatening tantrums forces the admin to pretend to believe them and do what The Kids want–postponing exams, disinviting conservative speakers, criminalize sidewalk chalking for Trump. Et tedious cetera. Then both go off and laugh themselves silly.

    • DrOfnothing

      And your extensive knowledge of the campus environment comes from where, again?

      • RichardAubrey

        You mean mine back in the day, or at the present time?

        • DrOfnothing

          Well, we are discussing the current climate, so current or recent experience would be the most relevant.

          • RichardAubrey

            Examples may have to do: When U-Mich was going to show American Sniper, there was great angst on campus and the admin figured to cancel. That led to more angst, so they showed it but supplied a safe room with teddy bears and such.
            Same thing at U-Mich after the election, offered by the law school, which later took down the notification.
            I believe it was Harvard Law where students wanted exams delayed or cancelled.
            Upon spying “Trump” chalked on the sidewalk, U-Mizzou students went angsty, one of them saying, “We’re in pain.” the admin bungled the response.
            Depaul denied a conservative speaker because of the threats of violence. From their own students. Hence my supposition of collusion.
            I’m not going to insult you any further by implying you don’t know this. I just wanted to let you know everybody knows this.
            For whatever reason, this is a new phenomenon.
            We’re H. Sap. We spent a million years coimng up the hard way. the predators who threatened us are extinct or on the endangered species list.
            A tenth of the people setting out on the Oregon Trail died on the way.
            It’s understood that not all students are like this. When my kids were in college, grad 2000 and 2001, none were.
            Now, showing one’s weakness is a kind of virtue signaling, plus it allows for manipulation of those whose ideas are not kosher. Or, worst, it might actually be true.

          • DrOfnothing

            The DePaul/Shapiro incident aside, this is all pretty small potatoes. And even in that instance, the talk was moved, not cancelled. The Trump chalk issue was at Emory, not Mizzou. And it prompted debate over the topic, which sounds like free speech to me. Harvard Law students did, indeed, request a delay to exams following the Brown shooting. The request was denied. Frankly, given the general apathy towards politics I’ve witnessed among students in the 90s and 00s, I’m glad they’re finally getting worked up about something, even if it usually evinces more passion than sense. Revolution is a game for the young, after all.

          • RichardAubrey

            I’m not sure if I said this before: I won’t insult you by presuming you don’t know better. I was listing a few examples. UMich Law also provided a safe space after the election, although they took the notice down. I didn’t have much sympathy for the revo on campus in the Sixties–I was there–but the idea of safe spaces as sticking it to the man hadn’t occurred to my classmates. Microaggressions are new. The DePaul issue is a big deal because it demonstrates collusion and the assertion by DePaul that their students are uncontrollably violent is a pretty big issue.

    • disqus_nBMMez9Ikj

      What would the mental health facility, or any other facility on campus for that matter, do if no one showed up? In the UNC system that would mean a request for more funding to spend more on something that does not work.

  • Jack Wayne

    How much of this stress is caused by the realization of many college students that they are under-prepared and under-capable of college work?

  • moron

    Yea, that’s it, too much stress. GPAs 1.0 higher than in the 60s and 70s with half the study time in majors that used to be called BS or didn’t exist. Stressful.

  • Scott Anderson

    You mean to say that if you exalt the oppressed,

    and then spend lots of money to find people oppressed by stress and anxiety,

    you will find more people claiming stress and anxiety

    and the victim status attendant to them?


  • emersonushc13

    I’d like to know what kinds of companies hire people with degrees in the various marxist victim ideologies. Who hires people who will only complain, agitate, and sue?

    • claudehopper

      Left wing non-profits

      • DrOfnothing

        Yeah, like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Deloitte, Goldman-Sachs, BofA, Boeing. Damn left-wing non-profits!

    • buddygonzo

      The state

    • m a

      Anybody with an HR department who wants to be able to document they’re taking all the EEO regulations seriously. Gotta hire someone who specializes in identity divisiveness to show the government…

  • Dusty Thompson

    Where are college kids getting this foolish and poisonous notion that they have opinions relevant to anyone?

    If you’re interested in why the ctrl-left acts this way then watch this video:

    • DrOfnothing

      Yeah, to hell with those college students and their stupid “opinions.” They should be taught to obey the wisdom and authority of their elders, like all the fine, highly-educated folks who post here. Oh, wait . . .

  • Richard Warren

    Can you tell me how to distinguish a higher education leader from a university bureaucrat?

  • billyhollis

    Learning to cope with stress is just part of becoming an adult, productive, responsible person. Turning students into whining victims because of the normal stress of college isn’t doing them any favors. They won’t always be in that hothouse atmosphere, and workplace environments are in many cases going to be a *lot* more stressful than college.

    Besides, exactly why is this stress supposed to be increasing? Academic standards seem to be going down instead of up, so courses are presumably easier. It’s much, much easier to get the resources needed for coursework. (I recall ten hours I spent in the library tracking down a single fact that would be a 30 second Google search today.) Computers allow a lot of coursework to be done much faster and with less tedium. Dorms are nicer than they used to be. Even the food is better on college campuses now.

    Costs are going up, sure, but in many cases that’s either in the future (student loans) or being shouldered by parents.

    So I think colleges would serve their students a lot better by worrying a lot less about the “emotional and psychological needs of their students” and focusing in on their academic missions. That’s going to help those students prepare for the world ahead a lot better than enabling their whining.

  • allencic

    As a retired professor I know that for students such as these snowflakes what they need most is to be flunked out until they grow up or lacking that, a good swift kick in the ass for being such pitiful wimps. Time to become adults and take responsibility for your mental weakness and actions. The world won’t care that you’re victims and members of “The Church of the Perpetually Offended.” You better grow up or be prepared for a miserable life as whiny adults.

    • Another_Lurker

      First rule of life – it is always unfair and for some a little more unfair.
      Second rule of life – most of your real problems are self-inflicted.
      Third rule of life – Almost nobody really gives a damn about you or your problems.

      • allencic

        Your Third rule is especially important. When you’re young you worry about what “they” think of you and how you look and act. If you’re lucky you’ll realize while you’re young that “they” aren’t thinking about you at all. “They” have their own problems and life to worry about and don’t bother with you. Taking responsiblity for your own life is the most important lesson of all.

  • Ron

    “…the average public university spends about $1 million per year on mental health services.”

    When I went to college over 40 years ago, these services didn’t exist. But thanks to the pampering we give students today in secondary school and college, the administrators found a new gravy train to further their bloated administrations, all at the cost of the student body.

  • Deserttrek

    the snowflakes are taught to be illiterate sheep to be led by an all knowing central government .. all according to the program

    • Dusty Thompson

      It’s not so much that the ctrl-left is totally ignorant. Its that they know so many things that just aren’t so.

    • DrOfnothing

      That should work out well for Trump, authoritarian that he is, no?

      • Steve Long

        You are wrong again, or still wrong. Snowflakes are generally designed to support the Democrats, but Repubs would not turn them away if they came. Trump, however, is hopefully starting a new political party that goes against the globalist snowflake generators.

  • Edwhy

    Emerson13: I believe George Soros has a number of organizations that specialize in hiring victims of sexual, racial, and ethnic discriminalization to continue protesting. Don’t know if a hiree can expect to work long enough to qualify for a gold-plated watch……..

  • AmyH

    These adults need way more “suck it up, buttercup” and way less coloring books and relaxation.

  • claudehopper

    Lots of discussion on college student stress, while in my state, Oregon, 30% drop out of high school. They have and will experience real stress, but are ignored by the ED industry.

  • David Wyman

    Even assuming the diagnosis rate is true, why is this the college’s problem? If these students had gone into a job, gone into the military, traveled abroad, become missionaries, or become ski bums no one would have taken responsibility for their mental health except their natural support systems.

    • Ray Runge

      “Why is this the college’s problem?”

      When I pay 10 times more than a service is worth—-AND I want to have a hissy fit—-then you darn well believe that your job is to tolerate my tantrum!

    • ursafan40

      “If the Army wanted you to have a nervous breakdown TRAINEE, the Army would have ISSUED you a nervous breakdown! Drop and give me 50!”

  • Boston_Patriot

    When “intellectuals” teach that reason is invalid, young minds collapse. This has slowly been building for well over a century, since the influx of nineteenth century German philosophy into American universities. The indoctrinated youth, screaming for government control and authoritarianism with self righteous indignation, are the chickens coming home to roost.

    • DrOfnothing

      Well, that explains the Trump election, at least.

      • Steve Long

        It is the liberals who believe in moral relativism, not the Trump voters.

        • DrOfnothing

          Do you know what moral relativism actually is? Go on–I dare you to define it and then to find a concrete example of it being championed by a political Liberal in public office. Go on–I double-dog-dare you.

    • George

      It was the influence, first, of thinkers like Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict in the 1930’s and 1940’s. These thinkers violated the methodology of their disciplines by drawing evaluative conclusions from what should be a value-neutral description of group beliefs and behaviors (they stopped doing science and instead did philosophy badly). This lead to a widespread embrace of value relativism by faculty in humanities and social science departments (with the exception of analytic philosophy departments, who continued to believe that reasons are relevant to value judgments). The second influence was that of structuralist theories of meaning embraced by faculty in the humanities and social sciences, and then the influence of Derrida’s deconstruction of structuralism (again, with the exception of analytic philosophy departments). Although the roots of structuralism are found in Russian linguistics at the beginning of the 20th century, structuralism became a force only in the 1970’s and then, when Derrida’s slogans were taken up as “theory” by the Yale English department, structuralism was replaced by post-modern “deconstruction” of meaning. German politicians in the 1930’s used their mis-interpretation of Nietzsche to ground their cultural mind-set, but I do not see Nietzsche as the source of what concerns us here. That aside, the public schools give 4th graders tests which reward them for affirming moral relativism. The test my son was given was so badly made that it equated anything requiring judgment with something subjective hence relative (according to the test makers, though the assumption that the implication holds is false). The answer the test required to the question “is “Greenville between Miami and New York” a matter of opinion” was “yes.” This is insane!

  • Cato_the_Elder

    The crux of the issue is not a matter of the Snowflakes being accurately diagnosed, but rather are they being prepared to cut it in the rough and tumble my grandparents called “life”? The early returns are not good. The past year has provided me with a robust list of schools from which I will not entertain a single graduate for possible employment. I do not have either the time or inclination to put up with a possible hiring mistake that can be avoided.

  • kuchuk

    Don’t they have homework to do?

  • Chuck Pelto

    RE: Snowflakes?


    • DrOfnothing

      Yes, the vaunted American public education system, so vastly underfunded that it currently ranks 17th in the world, after almost every major European country + New Zealand. If the goal is to enslave people through the poor transmission of maths and reading skills, we’re doing a fantastic job.

      A-S-U! S-A-U!

      • Chuck Pelto

        RE: Underfunded?

        “Yes, the vaunted American public education system, so vastly underfunded that it currently ranks 17th in the world, ” — DrOfnothing

        It’s not the funding. It’s what they’re teaching. Or rather NOT teaching.

        We shovel money into education and we get no improvement whatsoever.

        I sat on a citizens oversight commission some time back. And in one Fall session, the two institutions of higher learning reported that 38% of the students coming to them from the two K-12 districts were not ready for the level of education. They lacked the necessary English and Math skills. And required remedial education in those areas before they could attend classes.

        You don’t need tones of money to teach English. Or Math.

        Last year I read that only 19 students out of a large school district in Pennsylvania passed the SAT with the necessary scores to attend higher education.

        • DrOfnothing

          Yes, what you need to properly teach English and Math is
          1.) qualified teachers
          2.) relatively small classes
          3.) Longer school hours
          4.) a safe learning environment (i.e. generally free of violence and drugs).

          UK and European schools provide these, and invest more heavily in primary and secondary education. Perhaps most importantly, they _prioritize_ it over, say, saving a few tax dollars.

          In the US, parents fight day and night _not_ to pay educational taxes, and support legislation to divert that funding out of the public system and into the voucher system (for which NC parents are quite enthusiastic, since it allows de facto segregation).

          So, to say we “pour money into the system” is inaccurate, since much of that funding is then redirected out of it. It’s also worth pointing out that the effectiveness of primary and secondary education is very dependant on parental involvement, and the flattening of MC income and deindustrialization (the latter which has only exacerbated chronic inner-city and rural poverty) has made that involvement highly problematic outside of solidly upper-middle-class families.

          The issue is a very complex one, and any claim otherwise is simply unsupportable.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Qualified Teachers?

            None of those will work if they aren’t teaching what needs to be taught.

            And they only teach what they are told to teach.

          • DrOfnothing

            And your evidence of this is based on your brief tenure serving on a citizen’s commission many years ago? Not very convincing, that. Anyway, if you’ve got nothing else to add, fine. You’ve stated your opinion, and we can move on.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Still…..

            “And your evidence of this is based on your brief tenure serving on a citizen’s commission many years ago?” — DrOfnothing

            ….with the ‘stupid’….. 😉

            Stupid, adj., Ignorant and proud of it.

            Go back to HuffPo and get your up-votes closer to your comments.

          • DrOfnothing

            This last response makes no sense at all. Are you calling yourself stupid or me? And what’s with the 4/5 ellipses? That’s some kind of post-modern punctuation you’ve got yourself going there, Chuck.

            More importantly, how do manage a bold font in this comments section? That’s actually much more impressive than any of your, and I use this term liberally, “arguments” so far.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Still…..

            ….with the ‘stupid’….. 😉

            Stupid, adj., Ignorant and proud of it.

          • DrOfnothing

            RE: Still…..

            ….he’s with the ‘stupid’….. :0

            Stupidly, adv., CP is ignorant and proud of it.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Still…..

            ….with the ‘stupid’….. 😉

            Stupid, adj., Ignorant and proud of it.

            P.S. It IS clever. It’s a macro. One keystroke to reply to ‘stupid’….. 😉

          • disqus_nBMMez9Ikj

            That really hits the Doctors nerves.

          • DrOfnothing

            Started a second Disqus account have we? You’re not fooling anyone, scrapple.

        • disqus_nBMMez9Ikj

          Chuck, just a warning….do not feed the trolls! He is paid to do this to you!

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Prog Trolls

            “Chuck, just a warning….do not feed the trolls! He is paid to do this to you!” — disqus_nBMMez9Ikj

            It’s not so much ‘feeding’ the likes of this character, rather, dashing them in public makes them look the fools/tools they are to others viewing the discourse.

            Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. — Pr 26:5

          • DrOfnothing

            Yes, I feel tremendously “dashed” by someone repeating the same silly argument over and over again, then looking around smugly at the rest of the peanut gallery and congratulating themselves on their own cleverness.

            “Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.” –Cicero

          • disqus_nBMMez9Ikj

            I see your point. I do enjoy the hysteria of those people when they are presented with concepts like reality and facts.

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Reality & Facts — a.k.a., the Truth

            “I see your point. I do enjoy the hysteria of those people when they are presented with concepts like reality and facts.” — disqus_nBMMez9Ikj

            In a manner of speaking, it’s ‘sad’. To think that these people are so blatantly ignorant and so strangely proud of being that way….I look at what the vaunted American public education system has been turning out as ‘citizens’ and go back to Lord Brogham’s axiom. And I almost weep…. 🙁

          • DrOfnothing

            Sadder still is the inability of a grown man to have a civil discussion without calling their opponent stupid, a fool, or a “paid troll.”

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Still…..

            ….with the ‘stupid’….. 😉

            Stupid, adj., Ignorant and proud of it.

            Stupid is enough, and certainly accurate….. 😉

          • DrOfnothing

            Q.E.D. We’re done here.

          • Chuck Pelto

            Later…. 😉

            And do answer me one question….how deep are you in ‘education’?

          • DrOfnothing

            Chuck, you can’t insult someone and act like an irritating infant, then expect polite answers to your questions. Come back when you’ve matured a bit and we’ll talk like adults.

            “Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.” –Cicero

          • Chuck Pelto

            RE: Back…..

            ….with the ‘stupid’….. 😉

            Stupid, adj., Ignorant and proud of it.

          • DrOfnothing

            Yes, absolutely–and who, I may ask, do you think would pay me to post on an obscure educational policy website in NC?

            I do love how people who have nothing to add to the conversation, and know that their arguments are weak as wet tissue, always fall back on “he’s a paid troll!”

            BTW, any number of the folks at the Pope Center can confirm that this is completely untrue.

  • DSmith2

    You don’t need any “mental health professionals” or “studies” to see what’s going on. All you need is open eyes and a brain. Indeed, the belief in and over-reliance on such things is a symptom of the problem.

  • Bill Francis

    The reality is that far too many of the younger generation have not been brought up with any serious parental guidance. Giving the bringing up of your children to the indoctrination centers of America called public schools is child abuse.

    The greatest generation of WWII days worked hard to give their children more than they had thinking it a good thing. They were wrong. Too many of their children started the “you owe me”, “it’s not my fault” generation we have today.

    Stop the “participation” bs.

  • Danny K

    I’m not too worried about it. There are many, many kids who are just keeping their heads down and working hard. These kids will emerge to be the leaders and innovators of the next generation. Snowflakes are getting their 15 minutes now.

    • SortOfNotUnDeplorable

      It disturbs me, nevertheless.

      Most of these snowflakes, if not all, have advanced degrees, or are on their way to it.
      In many “corporate” interests, this is a badge.
      As far as I’m concerned, it is also septic.

      College dropouts need not apply, regardless of their shining common sense.

  • Pat_Rich

    A “psychology” thing. Corrupt discipline, always questionable output.

    • DrOfnothing

      Yeah, that B.F. Skinner, for understanding human behavior as a trainable activity, what a fraud! BTW, ring-a-ding, your dinner is served!

  • Speakeasy(X)

    Lots of wasted words. The answer to the article title’s question required only one word:


    • Kneave Riggall

      Actually, two words are required: STOP THAT!

  • ajbruno14

    Offered the following earlier on blog..thought I’d share, welcome replies to Anthony Bruno
    The “snowflakes” among us!

    A term has become common, “snowflakes”, used to describe an overly

    sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that

    from their own. Such people can often be seen congregating in

    zones” on college campuses.

    To an older generation whose lives were molded by real life experiences

    its hard to understand why so many, mostly young people, fall victim to

    this malady.

    But, being a ‘snowflake’ is not limited to the young, this condition

    can also be found in faculty lounges, where tenured professors seek

    solitude when it appears their desires or beliefs are threatened.

    Oddly, these “snowflakes” do not melt when the media is around. They

    find the courage to protest when the cameras are running and even

    violently engage those foolish enough to attempt to debate them!

    The best statement I heard made about this snowflake generation,

    “could or even would these 18-25 year olds ever scale the hills of

    Normandy?” Dare I say, most wouldn’t even know the significance

    of Normandy in the battle to save France from Hitler!

    Those of us who chuckled when we saw disappointed voters became

    unhinged after Donald Trump won the election may have also found it

    disappointing so many people really believe the election of one man

    or woman, if Hillary won, could actually destroy our great nation.

    But, thanks to a public education system that replaced teaching United

    States history with jaded professorial opinions, this is not surprising.

    The contagion of “snowflake-itus” is not limited to the young, highly

    educated or political partisans. It can been found even in Hollywood

    where celebrities reside protected by the walls of multi-million dollar

    estates and ‘red carpet’ walkways where their adoring fans know, they

    can look, but can not touch!

    These actors and actresses on rare occasions expose themselves to the

    public, making appearances to promote their latest movie, project or

    cause. Many even transform themselves into the fawning groupies when

    like minded politicians such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama come

    to town, usually with a self-serving motive, such as seeking donations.

    Some celebrities, who are easily transformed into publicity whores even

    proclaim they would “leave the country” if an election doesn’t go their

    way. This cyclical election year joke is laughed at, as none ever do.

    And for good reason, with all their complaints, they know there is no

    place better to live.

    For the Hollywood star who seriously considers leaving, the decision

    is never made by an election, its after consulting an accountant!!!

    Interestingly, even the financial benefit of departing becomes a moot,

    once Donald Trump lowers everyone’s taxes as he campaigned he would.

    Maybe enough to finance their private jets!

  • Jim O’Neil

    Stress, anxiety, and depression, etc. = life.

  • Rafterman

    Some of my community college students definitely need counseling and other services. I have veterans who suffer from PTSD. I have students who were homeless. I have others who were sexually assaulted. I have a bunch of substance abusers who are trying to get sober. I have students with autism and similar conditions. I have students who were in prison. And so on. I don’t know about universities, but most community colleges don’t have enough counselors to deal with all of these problems that were caused by issues in the off-campus lives of the students.

    • richard40

      It sounds like you may have some real work, on people with real problems. But any college offering mental health counselling for people who cant handle an election outcome, or because the ferguson case got decided wrong in court, or because they feel oppressed by white privilege, they are afraid of bigots/sexists attacking them, or because a swastica turned up in some dorm hallway, is definitely over staffed, or else people are working on the wrong cases.

    • b l

      Somehow a whole generation of men survived panzers and kamikazis, returned from Tarawa, Normandy and Guadalcanal, went to college on GI Bills, and didn’t need anywhere near the same level of counseling. What happened?

      • Rafterman

        My father remembers a guy who came back from the war in the Pacific. He chased cars in the street barking like a dog. Plenty of WWII vets suffered psychological trauma.

      • DrOfnothing

        What happened? Well, they were taught that any expression of fear or anxiety was a sign of weakness, so they buried it as deep as possible and never spoke of those experiences again. The thing about hiding from your memories, though, is that you end up hiding from everything else in the process. I should know, since my father landed at D+7, fought in the hedgerows, and was part of Patton’s drive across Europe (2nd Armored Division). I had to find out from a cousin, just a few months ago, that he was actually OSS, and since he’s gone now, I’ll never know what he really experienced. I think counselling, had his generation been tolerant of it, would have helped him _alot_.

        PTSD isn’t some made-up thing that never happened because older generations were “tougher.” The neurological effects of constant, prolonged stress are very obvious if you have the right tools to measure their effects. Neuroscience (not Psychology) has provided them. In WWI, they called it “shell-shock.” A good comparison would be cancer in the 18th c. It still inflicted tremendous damage and suffering, but no one understood it properly, and therefore they could not treat it effectively.

        • Steve Long

          Today’s students have experienced a different kind of stress, not fighting in a hot war. Perhaps the fifties were a time of optimism while today is time of pessimism, or was until recently.

          • DrOfnothing

            Last time I checked, my one student who was a scout-sniper who served two tours in the first Gulf War and the other who was a child soldier in Sierra Leone fought in “hot wars.” What the latter experienced, in particular, was a kind of horror rarely matched even in the WW2 Pacific.

  • L J Moloney


  • lfstevens

    It makes me happy to think that we can blame helicopter parents and the universities for this nonsense. Then there’s Mattress Girl. so maybe not so much. Keep hope alive.

  • Gentry

    Let the insanity and stupidity continue. Except for science, engineering and medicine the typical college graduate I meet these days has less of an education than most of the folks I graduated from high school with and even less real intelligence. They have less ability and opportunity but mountains of debt that will ultimately be paid by the blue collar types and the one per centers. If it were not for the rich this country would be circling the bowl. No, I’m not anywhere near rich.

  • Alison Marie

    Mental Illness is heavily stigmatized. I wonder if the pejorative, generation snowflake, is just a reaction against normalizing mental illness?
    Western Medicine has often blamed patients causing illness by falsely citing “stress” as the source… Stomach Ulcers, Crohn’s disease, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, etc. Even though we now understand the pathophysiology of a lot of these disease, at least in part, it’s very hard un-train this “blame the patient” mentality.
    Pretending that people can will themselves to better mental or physical health is attractive to control freaks and people prone to magical thinking. But I’m just A-Okay without having all of the answers. I don’t need to blame and point fingers. I like to roll up my sleeves, get to work, and figure out solutions. I think that’s what makes people lash out at us; we challenge the status quo. But believe me the Snowflakes are tough enough to handle the heat. 😉

  • JJ

    Snowflake pussies!

  • DrOfnothing

    Frighteningly enough, the derision towards the very idea of “mental health” and the contempt for Psychology expressed by many of the comments here is reflected in Dylann Roof’s journal (the disturbed young man who carried out the Charleston church massacre:
    “Also I want to state that I am morally opposed to psychology. It is a Jewish invention, and does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”

    It’s also worth noting that the discipline is offering some fairly keen insights into popular political dynamics as well: