Used to be, college was a place where new adults smacked face-first into life. You met people unlike any you’d known before. You confronted new ideas and cultures. You got challenged a little. You learned a lot.
That concept of college appears stone cold dead, and video evidence proves it.
Its footage shot last week in ASU’s Student Pavilion, in a room recently designated as a “multicultural space.” Before that, the space was a room where ASU pre-med student Chase Beckerman — a white male in his early 20s — sometimes went to study, including with his laptop, adorned with a “Police Lives Matter” sticker.
The sticker allegedly sparked the conflict, which last week racked up 5.5 million Twitter views and earned coverage from Fox News to Europe. In it, Beckerman and a white male friend — sporting a “Did Not Vote For Biden” T-shirt — are confronted by two women of color, sustainability grad student Sarra Tekola and undergrad Mastaani Qureshi, leaders of ASU’s Multicultural Solidarity Coalition, which lobbied for the creation of the space.
“What did I do wrong?” Beckerman asks.
“You’re offensive,” one of the women says. “Police lives matter?”
“We’re just trying to do schoolwork,” says Beckerman’s buddy, while Beckerman notes the presence of a Black Lives Matter sticker.
“But this is our space,” the woman says. “You’re making this space uncomfortable.”
“You’re making me uncomfortable,” the anti-Biden T-shirt guy says.
That’s when the whole thing goes to hell.
“But you’re white,” one woman shouts. “Do you understand what a multicultural space (is)? It means you’re not being centered.” To this the anti-Biden guy poses a question: “White’s not a culture?”
“White is not a culture,” Tekola yells. “Say it again to the camera. You think whiteness is a culture? … So anyways, this is the violence that ASU does and this is the type of people that they protect, OK. This white man thinks he can take up our space, and this is why we need a multicultural space. Because they think they can get away with this.”
Beckerman says he’s “just trying to study,” which unleashes another tirade.
“You’re a racist. Your sticker’s racist. Because police, that’s a job. … I don’t choose to be Black, OK. You can choose to be a cop. You can choose to kill people with a badge, and you’re protecting that. … Which means that you’re racist.”
More shouting ensues, more cursing, more woke talking points.
The men leave, and the gist is clear: Police are evil. White men, too. The appearance of a pro-law enforcement sticker in a multicultural space is an act of violence.
The self-anointed police of this space feel empowered to defend it by enforcing a version of the same Jim Crow segregation Americans of all races battled against for decades.
Now Beckerman has an attorney and a public statement. “I support good people of all colors, creeds and religions and support those who want to end racial and social injustice. I am a student. My only desire is to study hard, work hard, and complete my studies at Arizona State University. I am cooperating with the university’s investigation into this incident, and I have faith in that process.”
ASU also released a statement: “Differences of opinion are part of the university experience. The university expects respectful dialogue between students in all engagements.”
In a righteous world, respect would be a two-way street. You’d get it no matter the title of the space, no matter the color of your skin, no matter the slogan on your sticker.
I learned that in kindergarten. Now you go to college to unlearn it.