Lehigh residence hall vandalized with racist language

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UPDATE: The suspect, Yukai Yang, ’18, was identified in the Lehigh University Police Department’s crime log.

Yang has been remanded to Northampton County Prison after a preliminary arraignment, with bail set at $10,000. The charges will go to the district justice early next week and a formal arraignment will be scheduled, according to a previous email sent to the Lehigh community from President John Simon.

He had been released on bail as of Saturday afternoon, according to Northampton County Department of Corrections.

UPDATE: The student who vandalized a residence hall with racist language has been arrested and charged with ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief, according to another email sent to the Lehigh community by President John Simon.

According to the email the student was remanded to Northampton County Prison after a preliminary arraignment. Simon wrote that “these charges will go to the district justice early next week and a formal arraignment will be scheduled.”

A room in a university residence hall was vandalized with racist language Thursday night, according to an email sent to the Lehigh community by President John Simon. In addition to racist slurs written on a surface in the room, personal and university property were also destroyed.

Simon wrote that the process of physically removing the acts of vandalism, replacing windows and locks, and further ensuring the safety of the residents is ongoing. However, he wrote, such an act leaves a wound that can not be addressed so easily.

“ALL members of the Lehigh community have a right to feel safe, to feel respected and to feel welcomed,” Simon wrote. “NO individuals have the right or the authority to take it upon themselves to commit acts that threaten or demean anyone. This behavior will not be tolerated and will be met with severe consequences, including prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

Though hate speech and vandalism are not explicitly mentioned in the Lehigh Code of Conduct, Simon wrote that the consequences for violating student conduct and university policy with such actions may represent grounds for expulsion from Lehigh.

LUPD is actively investigating this crime.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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53 Comments

    • Yeah of course! Just because this one thing happened, doesn’t mean that this the only stuff that happens at Lehigh.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        Yeah, I think you have to go all the way back to last year for the last incident of racist graffiti and arrests for it at Lehigh. I mean the timeline’s littered with other stuff inbetween, but this one racist thing, it’s seriously *months* since the last episode.

        • Current Student on

          What’s the university supposed to do about it? They expelled the student and turned him over to the police. During orientation, we spend almost 1/2 a week doing useless PC language stuff. Unless you think it would be appropriate to ask a student if they’re a racist in the application and deny them admission based on that.

          Amy, I am curious what you recommend doing in this situation, as you seem to think you are the final judgement of character.

          • Amy Charles '89 on

            *final judge of

            Your question about the racist tickbox reminds me of Brexit forms that demand people declare whether or not they’re terrorists.

            For real, this isn’t difficult. When it isn’t really isolated incidents, but patterns of events mostly taken care of in-house, you have a real problem. And in this case it’s that there’s an implicit shrugging at racism, misogyny, other bigotries that don’t rise to the level of property damage and cop involvement. Something’s wrong with the environment, and “fish rots from the head down” applies here. When you have a school run by people who insist on honoring a guy who calls neo-Nazis “fine people” and majority-black countries “shithole countries”, has a history of civil-rights violations in business, and treats women like garbage, you’re sending a message. You’re saying, “All this is fine with us. Never mind the language-training window dressing that we have to do so that we can continue to get federal money from grants and student loans. Carry on, just don’t damage property or break actual laws. If you do that we don’t know you.”

            So if Lehigh’s serious, the composition and views of its board will change radically. And then the admin will start doing things like advertising that language training you didn’t like and failed to see the point of. Advertising the Title IX office’s work. Advertising its decisions about shutting down fraternities and considering getting rid of secret fraternities altogether. Part of its marketing will be “this is who we are”.

            Classes will be overhauled. Faculty composition will be scrutinized. (Last I checked, after decades of promises, Lehigh has yet to do anything to address the wild gender and racial imbalances between full profs and assistant and contingent profs.) Promotion, tenure, and wage disparities will be addressed, as will student demographic imbalances in various programs, as will the “merit” non-argument that’s a favorite of people allergic to decades’ worth of evidence of systemic bias keeping out the meritorious. Part of your engineering courses will be devoted to social matters, reflecting the reality that nobody does engineering in a vacuum, and you have to be able to work well with other people, meaning other people whose backgrounds and circumstances are quite different from yours — and that it’s not their job to carry the burden of educating you without making you uncomfortable, and adapting to you, while you sit back and decide which things you want to pay attention to.

            There wouldn’t be any need for tickboxes, because if you really are bigoted, quietly or out-and-proud, you’ll self-select away. Conversely, the people who recognize their future biz/STEM careers as social will find it very interesting and want in.

            Which I’m thinking might make the self-selecting-out kind of sour after a while, because those kids who see the social aspect of work and are also very good at what they do are the ones who’re going to be most successful. I don’t know what kind of success gap there has to be before the self-select-outers recognize that maybe they’ve got some seriously wrongheaded takes on the world that are standing in their way, but it’d be very nice to find out.

            • 1. He is the sitting president of the United States. If he is good enough to be president, he is good enough for an honorary degree from Lehigh. If they rescinded it, they would be insulting the millions of Americans who supported him. Your problem is with the electorate, not the university trustees.
              2. If you are not an engineer, please don’t comment on the curriculum. Most engineers particularly selected Lehigh, because of the lack of social sciences requirements.

              • Amy Charles '89 on

                I think that if you’re a current student, you’re going to find in about 15 years that this was a mistake. The generation coming up behind you is very much aware of the necessity of doing both things at once, and in relatively short order they’ll be your bosses, just because they are rather remarkably effective people on the whole. So if this is your attitude, you’ll likely find yourself grousing about why you’re not being promoted, and then why you can’t find a job. Don’t take too long to figure out that you’ll have to play catchup on the soc sci side, and take it seriously.

                • Robert Davenport on

                  Just because you are an engineer or techie and did not take social science courses does not mean you are socially inept, Look at Mark Zuckerberg. Oops, look at somebody else like Lee Iacocca. I can argue that arts majors should take more science courses. You can pickup a social consciousness without college courses.

                • Like Davenport below said, just because you don’t take social sciences doesn’t mean you are socially inept. I don’t know what social skills would help me in my job now (btw I’m 10 years out of college). My writing skills and presentation were pretty well crafted in high school.

                  Also, if I was a current student, the generation 15 years behind me, would be, at most, 7 years old. I’m not quite ready to fear them yet. Engineers from China and central Europe are a much bigger threat in my industry, and I want all the design knowledge I can to fend them off.

            • Current Student on

              No, the school is run by liberals who push for the removal of Trump’s degree but that’s beside the point. Because of that simple fact, everything you said is untrue.

          • Current Student, I have an idea! How about improving Lehigh’s culture which has been shockingly apathetic to social problems. They can start by recruiting and admitting more intellectuals instead of pre-professionals.

            • But Lehigh is a preprofessional school. Go to a liberal arts school ( there are dozens in PA alone) if that is the culture you want. Don’t change what we have created here which makes elite business and engineering leaders.

              • @Meredith, I’m sorry; I wasn’t clear earlier. I should have said that Lehigh should recruit more intellectually curious students period (regardless of the discipline they end up in). You can be an intellectual who wants to work in a practical field. I know many. I’m saying we should recruit more critical thinkers and less drinkers.

                Also, stop kidding yourself. An engineering school ranked in the 60s and an unranked business school are lightyears away from being elite.

                • I think there are lots of schools that would provide the environment you are looking for, and I believe most of those schools would not provide the career prep that Lehigh gave me 10 years ago.

                  Additionally, if you were one of those critical thinkers you would understand that school rankings (particularly US News and World Report) should be taken with a grain of salt, as the schools and rankers manipulate them dramatically. In my 8 years as a Lehigh engineering graduate, every time I’ve told someone in the engineering field my alma mater, I’ve been greeted with, “o wow, impressive.” As for the business school, my two best friends (both finance majors) each pulled in over $250,000 last year (as 30 year olds). That, my friend, is greatly attributed to their elite school.

            • Current Student on

              I don’t think Lehigh’s reputation as being politically apathetic is true now.

              And I think it is good that Lehigh focuses more on pre-career stuff than on “intellectual” stuff. As a conservative students, I couldn’t imagine being at a school like Williams that is more about being smart and politically active than being ready for a career. I think the university’s role is to educate us and let us make up our minds about politics.

              And this isn’t even a political issue, not sure why the left is trying to make it one. No conservative student is saying they are happy this happened, we are just as shocked. We just think that the university has no way of preventing this, unless of course you think 1984 levels of indoctrination and brainwashing are morally acceptable.

        • Center for Ethical B&W Commenting on

          Amy, aren’t you the one who derided the College of Arts and Sciences for establishing a Center for Ethics?

    • What does this have to do with Lehigh? Unless it can be proven that there was collusion with others or there is an epidemic rampant on campus (there is not, though some would have you believe there is), it is a one-off and the student is the only one responsible. Something obviously made this kid flip – since he is a minority himself it would be very interesting to hear what it was. The plain truth is there are bad eggs in society, and some will inevitably be present at Lehigh as they will in every other school in America. Just because some show up occasionally in the news does not make Lehigh any better or worse than any other institution. To answer your question: Does anything GOOD ever happen at Lehigh? Of course it does – every single day, so much so that we all take it for granted. Unfortunately bad news seems more press-worthy than good news, so that is all you ever seem the hear/read about. Too bad.

      • Asa is mad, I encourage you to search for Lehigh in the google news section. Historically, you’ll find that Lehigh is associated with a disproportionate amount of bad press, especially compared to other schools. Sure, Lehigh students rob banks, haze each other, and commit hate crimes year after year after year. Lehigh students are great at these things. But when was the last time you heard about a breakthrough, by Lehigh students, faculty or alumni, in any discipline?

        • 1. The bank robbery was more than 10 years ago.
          2. The first female CEO of a big 4 is a Lehigh alum. How is that for achievement for you? There are many more great things to read about if you put a little effort in.
          3. Most ignorant comment I have ever read on this page.

          • @Meredith,

            1. Fair
            2. Cathy Engelbert became CEO in 2015 (3 years ago). This was news then, it certainly is not news now. If that’s all you’ve got to refute me then I rest my case.
            3. I agree. My comment was pretty ignorant.

        • Clara, I am painfully aware of the bad press Lehigh gets and has gotten over the years. And as I’m sure you are aware, “googling” something does not suffice for due diligence. Bad press does not necessarily mean things happen disproportionately than they do at other colleges. It merely means that Lehigh’s (bad) news is picked up and distributed more readily than many other schools. Lehigh happens to be the largest and most prestigious college in the Lehigh Valley. Therefore, almost any news is instantly picked up by local stations (WFMZ) and newspapers (The Morning Call) and eventually through syndicates can spread nationally. Good news (“breakthroughs” as you call them) are rarely publicized, or are buried in special interest sections and lesser-read publications. I read about them often in the Alumni Bulletin and Lehigh newsletters. Unfortunately in today’s instant news environment, the more shocking, controversial, or related to the PC topic of the day, the more press-worthy it becomes. Here are a couple of recent breakthroughs by Lehigh students and alumni, in case you missed them:

          https://www1.lehigh.edu/news/using-virtual-reality-to-diagnose-glaucoma

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/vickyvalet/2018/04/03/your-career-is-not-linear-deloitte-ceo-cathy-engelbert-on-her-rise-to-the-top/#38ba10f07893

            • Robert Davenport on

              If it bleeds, it leads mentality promotes biases both for writers and readers. The administration is always on the lookout to limit the damage. You would hear more truth if there was less spin and overreaction to it.

            • Not what I said at all, Amy. Merely that bad news sells, good news doesn’t, so sometimes it’s harder to find.

          • Robert Davenport on

            I remember an negative incident involving swim team members several years ago that was reported in the Easton Express by a female former B&W reporter, may have been editor. I’m thinking that was a tough assignment. The article indicated the professionalism of that reporter. Lehigh got a black eye from the incident but no warm fuzzy unless you were familiar with the writers background.

            Good news is not as obvious as bad news.

          • Amy Charles '89 on

            Asa m’dear,

            I don’t think you understand how university news works.

            Every university, from giant ones like Cal to little ones like Lehigh, has a phalanx of people whose job it is to collect anything remotely positive and newsworthy at the university, make a news story out of it, and stuff it in as many reporters’ pockets as possible. Not just the locals, which is actually less important for a Lehigh than for a public U that has to convince legislators the money’s doing something, but national and, depending on how hard they depend on intl tuition, global. The news offices generally hire journalists for the job.

            When you google Berkeley, or U of C, or Columbia, or Wellesley, or other schools of that ilk, you’ll get some scandal coming up. But you’ll also hear a lot about prizes, discoveries, cool things a student’s invented, and famous alumni in some new job.

            If when you google Lehigh mostly crime comes up, there are two possibilities:

            1. awesome, newsworthy stuff is happening at Lehigh and its news office sucks at its job; or

            2. the most newsworthy thing about Lehigh is its scurvy atmosphere.

            It’s probably not (1). Now, granted, Lehigh is not an R1 university and competes at a disadvantage in the legit-amazing-uni-news category. It just doesn’t hit that heavy. But if you ain’t a genius, you can still be nice. You can make a rep for being nice. You can even be in the news for your famous niceness. News outlets love a good warm-fuzzy story for capping things off. This is not what Lehigh is in the news for. Why? I dunno, maybe because it’s got leadership that lives on vulturism and is cool with a mobster like Trump, so unsurprisingly it attracts people who’re inclined to either go along with or look the other way about racism, misogyny, hazing, insular upper-middle-class opportunity-hoarding, and all manner of socially destructive crap, while deriding people who actually spend their time studying the issues in hopes of making things better.

            I hope that clarifies.

            • Current Student on

              Have you not gotten the message yet? The faculty and administration HATES President Trump. The people who support him are the boards. How is the faculty and administration who put on all these progressive event, fight against racism and other issues guilty?

              Why should the administration be punished for the actions of a student? I don’t understand the insane mental gymnastics you keep pulling to get to the conclusion that the university is at fault for the actions of a student.

              Unless of course you see something wrong with the liberal faculty (as you have noted this is a recurring problem) and think trying out some more conservative administration would work.

              • Amy Charles '89 on

                Oops — guess what Lehigh’s in the news for today? One of its Boomer-era multimillionaire grads is on trial for the murders of his college friend and his wife. If you tried to make this stuff up you’d get thrown out. The rich kid criminal trope was so done to death by the 90s that nobody’d touch it even now.

                As for what you’re not getting: it’s trustees and regents who set a university’s tone and direction. They hire the presidents and usually put a pretty heavy thumb on the scale when it comes to direction the university takes.

                You also need a better feel for this country’s political spectrum. By no stretch of the imagination does Lehigh’s faculty qualify as liberal. I hear you can take soc-sci courses there, if you want.

                Honestly, unless you’re looking to make a living searching for lost worlds and snarling at people when you get out of there, I think you’d better start acclimating your head to the social realities around you.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        Ah, the “bad apple” argument.
        One bad apple, two bad apples, three bad apples, four bad apples, five bad apples, six bad apples, seven bad apples, eight bad apples, nine bad apples, TEN BAD APPLES up on top of South Mountain.

        So many bad apples who keep popping up in the news. Makes you wonder what doesn’t make the news.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        Yup. Jail terms for breaking them, too.

        Ya see, Frank, when people like you are horrible enough to other people, eventually they say “that’s enough”, and they do it in a legal way you’re going to feel, even if you have trouble figuring out what happened and who’s ruining your good time being horrible.

  1. Robert Davenport on

    “During orientation, we spend almost 1/2 a week doing useless PC language stuff.” I am not surprised, organisations are sensitive to criticism and take steps to reduce the criticism but not necessarily to solve the problem. Students should be taught to respect each other before they get to Lehigh, but obviously this is not being accomplished. Attacking the differences among us is obviously wrong but a significant number of Lehigh students have a problem respecting others even when they are considered “brothers” and “sisters. I don’t see this as a “Lehigh” problem, it’ more of a Lehigh student problem. Students should march to have the administration provide training on getting along with each other (and how to deal with those who won’t).

    Mad Asa made several good points including “the kid flipped out”. Apparently the student was severely punished, but probably more important is why he did it. It’s easy to punish but hard to change; especially if a goal is not identified. The administration will react to but not solve the problem. They probably would implement a well thought out solution.

    • Current Student on

      Do you not think that by 18, if a students hasn’t learned how unacceptable it is to do something like this that they never will?

      Since I was born, my parents told me to respect others. Every teacher I had though high school told me to respect others. I don’t think it is the university’s job to teach a student this. 18 years is not going to be amended by 3 days. Now, I do believe the university must punish this student as they already have, but I don’t think the university has the job of babying adults.

      • Robert Davenport on

        Your history is what i would expect from a Lehigh student but the evidence is that not everyone is likewise blessed. I have several friends in education who say that behavior of students, even in the lower elementary grades, is disrespectful.

        I think that education, formal and otherwise is a lifelong thing. If a person can’t change for the better after 18 both that person and society are screwed.

  2. Marc Fleuette on

    Count on Amy to drag President Trump into a discussion of a crime committed by a student who wasn’t even born when then-Democrat Trump was awarded an honorary degree (decades before the Access Hollywood tape). No one would care (and the tape would not have been released) if he had contented himself with writing fat checks to the DNC instead of proving himself the second worst presidential candidate in history.

    Marc Fleuette ‘85

  3. Amy Charles '89 on

    So this thing about the horror of having to take social sciences/humanities courses if you’re an engineer.

    I’m not a scientist, but I work with scientists and engineers. And one of the biggest barriers to the healthy functioning of sci/eng labs, depts, groups, units, etc. that I see now — daily — is the fact that the people who’re in charge, usually older, usually white men, not only had no training outside STEM, but they never thought it was important, and were educated to despise it as weak or effeminate. So they never learned about the issues, and never learned the concepts or the language for talking about them.

    Now they’ve got real social problems in their no-longer-monoculture departments, because the departments themselves were built and organized to serve white guys with last names ending in -son and -by and -field and like that: guys who’d get married in grad school and have stay-home wives, and live comfortably in a dominant culture where the favors stayed within particular groups, and support staff were treated like domestic help. But that’s not how the groups and departments are anymore. In academia, the faculty and staff are somewhat more diverse now, and the grad student population is radically more diverse along all sorts of lines. Race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, disability, class, nationality, immigration status, you name it. Undergrads, even more so. There’s significant bleed between faculty and staff status: lots of staff have advanced degrees, teach, make decisions about how things go in the department. And in the rest of the world, the changes are even more palpable and have been moving faster.

    So the tensions are very much there. The way things are set up still makes it hard or impossible for anybody but the old guys — the big winners — and the minority of students and plurality of faculty who they recognize as being like themselves. Everyone but the old white guys is aware of it. Everyone else is talking about it. And the old guys have no idea what’s going on and don’t know how to have the conversations — they haven’t even got the language. And they don’t understand why all these fights are breaking out, why people aren’t getting along, why they themselves keep getting attacked. Some are old and rich enough to retreat into retirement, but many really are not. I still don’t see that most are convinced that they’ve got serious catch-up to do in their educations, though, even when people leave or turn down their units/depts/etc. because the environment is so…old white guy or fratbro, and go to places that actually know how to deal with diversity. Instead they cling to the idea that if people just do their work meritoriously they’ll do fine — without recognizing that both “merit” and the setups that allow people to do that meritorious work have been very well defined and designed for them, but not for these other people, who do recognize it well, and can talk about it, and can propose and institute changes.

    I really feel for the younger guys caught in the middle of the transition. It’s all over the body language, the attempts at dealing with these things they can see happening in front of them and know are real: they were educated early on in becoming one of these old white guys who’d run everything, and they still respond to that whole song, but they know they’re missing things hard and they’re really trying to catch up. While still, somewhere, feeling like they ought to be in charge and that something’s wrong with them if they’re not, I guess because Dad said. And also feeling like learning about the social stuff is a distraction from real business, a waste of time. So they’re on guard against these reflexes that were drilled in deep — but they’re there. It’s not an easy thing.

    I live deep in midwestern Trump country. When I moved here 25 years ago, the whole place was blindingly white and the very air was Christian. The incoming class this year here is about a quarter minority, non-international. My kid’s school district is about one-third minority. Maybe half her friends are white and Christian. The changes are profound, they’re fast and getting faster, and they impinge on every part of our lives, including work lives. Despite the roll-back-time supremacist dreams of some on the right, that ship has sailed. Short of genocide — which I wouldn’t put past some of them — that old country is gone.

    So yeah, while it’s true, Robert, that you can learn things without a course, sometimes courses are good for things that are important but are also things you’re disinclined to go learn about on your own, or involve things where you don’t know where to begin. These are not issues that are going to wash over a department and vanish, like a war, say, or an argument about nuclear safety. These are issues that are integral to living and working in America. If you’re living and/or working here, you better know what they are and how to talk constructively about them.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        I wouldn’t even try — I’m too old, too privileged, and I don’t come from a diverse enough planet. I cannot underscore hard enough how fast things are changing. Will it always be like this, no, I don’t think so, but I think we’ve got a long way to go before we hit the next equilibrium state. In the meantime there are new understandings, new concepts, new voices, new vocabulary…every few months, it seems.

        • Current Student on

          “new understandings, new concepts, new voices, new vocabulary…every few months, it seems.” Wow, almost like this stuff is being created almost on the spot in order to benefit the next “oppressed” group.

          • You’re listening to the sound of people finding their voices and articulating things that have been kept quiet for a long, long time. And yes, it does and will continue to benefit people who have been oppressed, no quotes.

            It’s going to be a rough time for you, from the sounds of it. Unless a kid who’s already had a nice education and goes to a school that costs sixty-seven thousand dollars a year can stop thinking of himself as the victim, here.

            • Robert Davenport on

              In reality Amy’s description, repeated by Current Student applies to almost any group, not only “oppressed” or oppressed. Those “tactics” are often how progress is made as well as achieving the goals of a group.

          • Robert Davenport on

            These changes do not necessarily benefit an oppressed group but possibly profit groups not in power or groups with power but aiding a particular cause or agenda.

            Consider the Lehigh Engineers now Mountain Hawks and the symbolic (dumbed down) version of the Lehigh University Seal, I wouldn’t call recent Alumni, current administration or students an oppressed group, having been terrorized by older alumni. Would some disagree?

    • Robert Davenport on

      I replied to current student before reading your post. To quote myself: “I think that education, formal and otherwise is a lifelong thing. If a person can’t change for the better after 18 both that person and society are screwed.”

      Most of my working career has been for a conservative industry, railroading, in a conservative part of the country, the south as a “damn yankee” in Virginia softened to a Yankee in Georgia. I spent a majority of the time in a six story building that had mens and ladies rest rooms on alternate floors because the ladies restrooms were added after women were employed. Originally six floors, no women. There seem to be plenty of people who think the Civil War/War between the States was not about slavery. Today’s paper had a reader opinion with the heading MLK wasn’t worthy of recent recognition (coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther KIng. The racist screed that followed was more a lack of thinking than a lack of intelligence. He qualifies as one of your old white guys. This one was an old white guy when he was a young white guy.

      “Instead they cling to the idea that if people just do their work meritoriously they’ll do fine — without recognizing that both “merit” and the setups that allow people to do that meritorious work have been very well defined and designed for them, but not for these other people, who do recognize it well, and can talk about it, and can propose and institute changes.” I’m not clear on the meaning of the phrases after the 3rd people instance. But I had a great supervisor who demanded results but also demanded teamwork, responsibility and mutual respect from the very diverse team members. This was a distinct difference from the way he was treated by his superiors. His exemplary code of conduct (morality) determined the actions he took.

      There can be progress if it is desired and people are willing to work at it.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        Amen.

        Today, the way he worked would entail understanding not just what he saw to be respectful behavior, but what his very diverse team understood to be respect. This is where the middle-aged white guys get stuck now: they say “but I am being respectful”, and not only does their version of respect have their own perceived superiority built in, it’s not really interested in the things that, to the other people, genuinely demonstrate respect. It’s white guy ‘respect’ being done at you, and surprisingly often it comes with walloping insults built in, just because those insults are baked into his worldview and he doesn’t even see them.

        At which point the guy will say “then teach me”, not even hearing the lordliness in the demand, and not recognizing that teaching is work and that it is not the job of every non-standard-issue-white-guy person to be his tutor (for free, yet!). That he actually has to go out and develop some sensitivity, listen hard, yes maybe take a course or too, maybe just spend a lot of time listening quietly to other voices online, maybe be hurt and offended as his privilege that’s like air to him, invisible and essential, is attacked. Maybe for years as he examines and adjusts his own thinking, his own behavior.

        It’s hard work and there are many disappointments. In my work, women, minority, and non-hetero people will often trust me far enough to come in and pour our some pretty personal things about discrimination, disrespect in their lives. And now and then I still misstep, because I’m an older lady who’s mostly been treated as white and offered all the education she ever wanted for almost no money, who grew up middle class in a time when there really was a middle class. And I’ll say something and know immediately it was the wrong thing, but I can’t take it back, and they flinch and cool, and you can see it hurts because they’d let themselves trust me and now I’ve shown them how dumb that was. And sometimes they give me a pass on it, but I know they’ll never forget it. It’s hard work all around.

  4. Amy Charles '89 on

    @Meredith

    The first decade of my working life was about learning to deal with Boomers, who are older than me. The next 20 years were all about your generation, and now, thank god, Z is on the scene. They’ll be on the job market in a couple of years. I’ve got about another 15-20 working years left, probably, and the new ones after them will be on their way in when I go.

    Most of your working life will be about getting along with people younger than you. You guys are in a particularly interesting spot because Z already appears to be so much more together, flexible, driven, and managerial than you guys are. I don’t think it’ll be too long before they’re managing you. They don’t have a lot of patience and there are a lot of them. They’re also far more diverse than you guys are and see inability to deal with diversity fluently as a serious liability. They won’t hesitate to promote over you or cut you loose if you sound to them like someone’s racist aunt.

    I’d start paying attention if I were you. Seven years will pass remarkably quickly, and you’re going to be a tired early-middle-aged person by then who really needs a good job and faces a lot of competition. “Social skills” without understanding of the social issues isn’t going to be enough, and neither will design skills. The issues take time to learn about, so if you want to be a well-employed 40something, I’d get cracking.

    • @ Amy Charles, sorry to hear that you had so many generational problems. Perhaps it is because you had no hard skills to fall back on. For engineers/scientists, if they are good at their trade, they will still be in demand even if they are difficult to work with. However, most engineers, especially millennials, do just find with the communicating/soft skills of a job. Calling us Racist Aunts, isn’t going to make that untrue. Regardless, one or two sociology, French, or english lit classes isn’t go to make anyone any more prepared for any job, but more thermodynamics, finance, or biology classes may.

      I’m not concerned about Generation Z. I don’t sit around comparing generations and what their skills are, as I understand that people are individuals, and they are so much more than when they were born. Happy to welcome them to the workforce in 10 years or so. However, the way I’m going, I hope to be retired in 15 anyway. See, you don’t know anything about me, and clearly, I and my fellow millenials, are not in need of your advice.

      • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

        I am currently finishing my MS from a well-regarded state system. Somehow this program, even in its core requirements, is more well-rounded than any curriculum I saw as a Lehigh undergrad. Everything from giving presentations to accounting to organizational psychology is included and the difference in the quality of the professors in comparison to the ones I had at Lehigh is mind-boggling.

  5. Embarrassed to Be Associated on

    I’m far from being a Trump fan but I think that rescinding his honorary degree could be very dangerous for the school. He is the president of the US–I’m sure he could find a way for the school to meet its demise if he wanted to. He already said years ago that it led to the death of his brother and, fortunately, he hasn’t commented on that recently.

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