Dear Incoming Students of the University of Chicago:
The Class of 2020 faces extraordinary challenges. You don't need us to tell you of the difficulties posed by climate change, globalization, or the new economy. The trials you will face make it all the more important to not coddle you. To wit: there will be no "safe spaces" on campus, no "trigger warnings" before your texts, and we will do nothing to stop "the bear that has escaped the Chicago Zoo and is currently roaming through our dormitories."
Becoming an adult means realizing a simple fact: you will never be 100% comfortable at all times. You will be exposed to ideas that challenge you. You will be placed in situations where there is no emotional refuge. And yes, you will occasionally be confronted by a 700lb killing machine with knives for fingernails, a jaw that can snap steel, and a malfunctioning GPS tracker.
As the internet sunglasses dog says: deal with it.
Telling you in advance whether or not your texts referenced sexual assault would not be difficult. But life does not give you a "heads up" before it challenges you. There is no "easy way out" of potentially traumatizing situations, just like there is no "easy way out" of the dining hall, as we have sealed the fire exits. So if you want food, you will have to face the very real risk of being devoured by an equally hungry Kodiak bear, who we have nicknamed "Furball."
Welcome to the real world, kids.
We understand that this incoming freshman class have not all led easy lives. Some of you have been touched by abuse, and may not want to be re-traumatized by reading Lolita, or Mrs. Dalloway, without warning. And some of you have been touched by the bear, including former incoming freshman Keith J. Happaway, who the school will be holding a moment of silence for later this week.
But if we were to protect you from everything -- every moment of discomfort, every PTSD induced flashback, every swipe of Furball's devastating paws -- we wouldn't be preparing you for the real world, where as far as we know, bear attacks happen constantly.
If you wish to transfer to a university that will hold your hand, protect your feelings and send you to bed each night with milk and cookies and no bear-related injuries, we suggest you look elsewhere. But if you want a university that will push you to your intellectual limits, safeguards free speech, and leaves bloody rags around to drive our new bear friend into a "killing frenzy," then you have found your home.
Bearman P. Clawington,
Dean of Students, University of Chicago
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