Dear Class of 2020 Student,
Congratulations on your acceptance to our prestigious university! We’re delighted you chose us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that you’ll be part of this academic community united by rigorous scholarship and steadfast devotion to freedom of expression. But if you’re some namby-pamby millennial crybaby who thinks we’re going to cave to your valid concerns and cancel the college-sponsored Ku Klux Klan rally we’ve scheduled for homecoming week, you’ve got another think coming.
You see, we here at this heralded institution don’t believe in quote-unquote “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” We prefer our spaces to be dangerous, intellectually no less than physically. That’s why our Klan rally—brought to you by the Department of Student Life and set to feature antagonistic speeches by members of what the PC Southern Poverty Law Center has called “the most infamous and oldest of American hate groups”—will also double as an open-carry demonstration.
In an ironic twist, our lawyers have informed us that we are legally obligated to warn you that at this event there will be literal triggers within reach of the itchy fingers of ideologically entrenched white men, but don’t get used to this kind of courteous heads up. Except in such cases where we have to cover our own asses to avoid lawsuits, you should expect no coddling from us.
Now, if you’re the sensitive, entitled brat this needlessly confrontational welcome letter assumes you are, you might be wondering why we’ve scheduled a KKK march on the quad when we could’ve just as easily booked any number of organizations working to advance society and enrich culture rather than set the clock back to Jim Crow. Well, if there’s ever been a question more indicative of the anti-intellectualism of this helicopter-parented generation, I’ve not seen it!
I suppose next you’re going to ask how this university can justify using your student activity fees to cover the Grand Dragon’s speaking honorarium and the material cost of gasoline and a few crosses?
Look, I realize you’ve grown accustomed to being sheltered at every step along the way of your precious little life, but that ends now. This is college, and we’re open to all viewpoints here—whether those of forward-thinking intellectuals or raging, hooded ideologues. If you can’t tolerate the opinions of white supremacists hell-bent on preserving the legacy of a domestic terrorist organization, then perhaps you shouldn’t be in college, should you?
As an incoming student and soon-to-be scholar at this university, it is absolutely vital that you learn to consider and respect opposing perspectives. That’s what the college experience is all about! For example, if you’re a traditionalist, you should learn to consider and respect the views of post-modernists. If you’re a liberal, you should learn to consider and respect the views of conservatives. And if you’re not white, you should learn to consider and respect the views of seething racists who fervidly reject your basic humanity and wish to strip away your civil rights—an apt description, incidentally, of members of the local Klavern who will be joining us for homecoming week festivities.
After all, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t condition you on a semester-by-semester basis to passively accept backwards, untenable views as being just as lucid as your own. You never know, maybe you could go on to internalize and even adopt some of the oppressive ideologies we open your mind to over these next four years!
You are of course free to sit the Klan rally out, but if you do, you do so to the detriment of your education. There is so much more to gain from the college experience than what you can get from a textbook or lecture hall, such as the opportunity to be called an array of racial epithets at a school-sponsored extracurricular event.
If you do attend the institutionally approved and funded KKK rally, please arrive with an open mind, an intellectual inquisitiveness, and—because we don’t condone “safe spaces” here—an emergency rucksack packed with a first aid kit, potable water, pepper spray, and signal flares. We also recommend a gas mask and bulletproof vest.
If you forgot to bring a bulletproof vest from home in the craziness of move-in weekend, you can pick one up from the campus bookstore on your way to the demonstration. I think you’ll be pleased with the sleek, stylish vest—complete with university colors and monogram—that the bookstore has in stock. While there, don’t forget to pick up a candy bar and soda to keep you fueled for a late night of studying and civil unrest!
You’ll only take from your education what you put into it, so I would encourage you to attend, provided you do so with close-toed shoes. You may find your initial discomfort at the prospect of joining a KKK rally was based on an inadequate understanding of Klankraft and various obscure Klan rituals that extend well beyond the cross-burning scheduled to take place at halftime of the homecoming football game.
If the privileged and bizarrely aggressive tone of my letter hasn’t gotten through to you, well then, by all means, keep being the easily offended, delicate snowflake you are. For my part, I intend to go on acting as though the free speech I so staunchly uphold doesn’t include your right to speak back.
Again, I welcome you to our university and extend my hearty congratulations on your acceptance! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me should you ever need anything, provided it’s not to whine about being called a racial slur by someone holding a torch and a differing perspective than your own.
Richard Head, PhD
Dean of Student Affairs
Mansfield State University