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Writer Describes How a Summer Program to Teach Free Thinking to Teens at Cornell Turned Into ‘Lord of the Flies’

Writer Describes How a Summer Program to Teach Free Thinking to Teens at Cornell Turned Into ‘Lord of the Flies’

“By the fourth week, the students had stopped smiling.”

This sounds like a terrible way to spend a summer.

Ani Wilcenski writes at Tablet Magazine:

A Cruel Summer at Cornell

“Why do you look dirty?” asked my mom when I got in her car. In the rearview mirror, 20 other teenagers stood on the front stairs, solemnly waving goodbye. Most of them were wearing maroon sweatshirts with a white “T” on the pocket. Some of them were crying. One of them, my friend Mark, cried so hard he was doubled over, hunched in the lawn away from the group while a stern woman watched him from a distance.

I was crying too, slumped against the car window in tears for a full half hour as we drove away from Cornell. Amid my sobs, my mom reminded me that they’d barely heard from us all summer, and I never once wrote.

Eventually, I gathered myself enough to open an envelope stuffed with handwritten notes.

“I think you have a nice spirit. I worry, in your grouchiness, you won’t believe me. Oh well,” read one.

“You are an individual of exceptional talent and questionable character,” read another.

I started crying again, though it might have been from relief.

Eight years after this car ride, in a recent article titled “A Black Professor Trapped in Anti-Racist Hell,” an instructor named Vincent Lloyd detailed his summer teaching a seminar for high schoolers on “Anti-Oppressive Studies.” As he tells it, the first day was sunny and full of hope. The students were curious, playful, and excited, having made it through the gauntlet of a 3% acceptance rate into the Telluride Association Summer Seminar to receive an all-expenses-paid scholarship to spend six weeks taking a college-level seminar at Cornell.

By the fourth week, the students had stopped smiling. They learned to stay silent in discussions and cede their speaking time to the least privileged classmates. They voted two other classmates out of the program. And they put the professor himself on trial for a long list of offenses, from using harmful body language to misgendering Britney Griner. A month into the program, they’d learned that participation was conditional, intellectual freedom was overrated, and the world was so broken it could never change.

In 2015, as a combat boot-wearing, poetry-writing high schooler, I was one of those students. Back then, it was called the Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP). TASPers would live in an intense, self-governed community devoted to democracy and discussion. The promotional materials sung of values like intellectual vitality, interpersonal awareness, and communal responsibility. Most TASPers ended up at prestigious universities, especially Ivy League schools, before fanning out into politics, academia, the sciences, and the arts. Telluride alumni included neoconservative theorist Francis Fukuyama, Democratic politician Stacey Abrams, and Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman.

Read the whole thing.


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Seems to me the events described above are just par for the course these days

Hey America — In about ten years, how many middle and upper-level managers do you honestly think will not be bilingual. In America.

If you continue to behave as if the world around you hasn’t changed, you’re going to pay a price — in lost wages, in lost career opportunities etc

And you’ll only have yourself to blame. And maybe your parents

Wake up. Please.

henrybowman | July 27, 2023 at 2:49 pm

“Read the whole thing.”

No thanks, I recognize a cult operation after a couple dozen paragraphs.

“…purchase an arsenal of Super Soakers and Nerf guns… Chaos ensued as muddy, drenched TASPers chased each other through the sorority halls, leaving wet grass and slippery tiles in their wake. The war concluded only when Kaitlyn skidded on a patch of wet floor, dropped a set of readings into a puddle, and angrily burst outside to declare an end to the antics. She forced everyone to surrender their weapons into garbage bags, ignoring Ben’s protests.”

Cult members are required to act only via Robert’s Rules and democratic vote… but this doesn’t apply to the cult leaders, of course.
“Nobody is coming for your squirt guns, comrade. Now, into the bag.”

We now have two published accounts of the recent summer programs which degenerated.

Fifty years ago, Telluride was a bastion of free speech and open inquiry. What is the undergraduate program like today>

Steven Brizel | July 28, 2023 at 9:12 am

This is Marxist brainwashing writ large

values like intellectual vitality, interpersonal awareness, and communal responsibility
So, communism.
No wonder they all hated themselves and each other by the time it was done.

how did Cornell become like that!
I cry.