The school year has just begun, but already there’s #controversy. Schools, especially universities, are a crucible for the debates playing out over the country as a whole. And since America’s national conversation has been a bit of a garbage fire lately, it’s not surprising that things got heated on campus this week.

Nearly all of America’s hot button issues—from LGBTQ rights to the Second Amendment—got their moment, their backlash, their wave of hashtags, and their second wave of those same hashtags being ironically misused by the other side. And then there’s the added layer of collegiate absurdity. So here are the issues the country has teed up, ready to mold young minds.

No Transgender Bathrooms in Texas Schools

Late Sunday, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom directive, just in time for the state’s first day of school on Monday. The President has said that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom and locker room of their choosing, rather than the one that matches the gender they were assigned at birth. The measure’s unanimously supported by LGBTQ advocates, who feel it’s not only a show of compassion, but also a good move for student safety.

So, what’s US District Judge Reed O’Connor argument for blocking it? Federal overreach, and…wait for it…Title IX, the law enacted to stop gender discrimination in schools and activities. His legal interpretation of the law is that since Title IX stipulates “facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex,” that means that the sexes are binary and MUST be separate.

For the most part, the people of the Internet are mad about this.

Others have pointed out that this issue should perhaps not be Texas’ first educational priority.

Though this court’s decision is unlikely to hold, it was only one of a number of setbacks for transgender rights surfacing in the federal courts this month. And with the presidential debates coming up, it’s surely to be back in the news soon. The issue’s far from resolved.


As part of their resident advisor training program, the State University of new York at Binghamton had a race relations seminar called #StopWhitePeople2K16. The goal of the training program, as Binghamton University has said, was to “facilitate a discussion among the RAs that would improve their ability to handle conflicts among residents around issues of diversity.” The name of the seminar (from which the alt-right ire has stemmed) isn’t actually a Binghamton invention. Note the dates on these tweets.

But as soon as the seminar was announced, #StopWhitePeople started trending pretty much immediately, mostly with comments like this one:

Explaining systemic racism isn’t the goal of this article. This controversy is for the most part just the #BlackLivesMatter/#AllLivesMatter argument with different window dressing.

What these tweets missed was that the hashtag that the seminar was highlighting was used mostly ironically to call out cultural appropriation. Was it a great name for a seminar? Up for debate. But racist, that it ain’t.

University of Chicago Wants None of Your Safe Spaces or Trigger Warnings

As part of a class of 2020 welcome letter, the University of Chicago Dean of Students Jay Ellison wrote that “we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” Some people were all in favor of this stance, saying it’s high time America stopped “coddling” its youth.

Others saw this as flat-out retrograde.

In many ways this is just the same argument everyone (including us) has been having on the Internet. There’s got to be a line between restricting speech and permitting harassment, but nobody seems to have found it.

Cocks Not Glocks

As of last year, it is completely legal for licensed gun owners over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons on campus at public universities in Texas, including in the dorms and classrooms. This is a true fact. One not everyone is thrilled about. So on the first day of school at UT Austin (where else?), students protested. Their rallying cry? “Cocks Not Glocks.” Their weapon of choice? Dildos. Why? because Cocks Not Glocks is a hilarious slogan that is the perfect big, veiny middle finger to the school’s harsh “obscenity” restrictions, which make dildos and other supposedly inappropriate items campus contraband. So guns? Yes, but dildos, no.

There was some pushback against this protest, but #ClocksNotGlocks didn’t pass the penetration point to arouse the passions of the NRA side that much. Mostly, the tweets were of this variety.

But we’d like to leave you on a cheery note, and these tweets (and visuals) really do speak for themselves.

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This Week in National Affairs: It’s Back to School, and It’s Ugly