University bans the phrase “as you know” so students who don’t know won’t feel bad

By Jonathon Van Maren

It would appear that one university is attempting to actively incur ridicule and take the term “snowflake” to the next level. A prestigious British institution is apparently willing to go to great lengths to ensure that their students feel as safe and cozy as a toddler in a bath towel:

A UK university has made headlines after sensationally forbidding staff from using a common phrase on campus. Bath University, in Somerset, England, recently held an equality and diversity network meeting, where it was decided that the words “as you know” should be barred from classes.

The idea behind the controversial ban is that it can make certain students feel “inadequate” and stupid if they actually don’t know what the professor is talking about. During the meeting, a video called Why Is My Curriculum White? was screened which explored ideas of race and belonging on campus.

The clip also showed an unnamed student complaining about the phrase.

“Saying ‘as you know’ leads to self-doubt and makes things difficult to question,” the student can be heard saying in the clip. In minutes of the meeting, the university’s student union race equality group co-chair Berenice Dalrymple is recorded as saying: “Some lecturers used commonly known references stating ‘as you know’, which could make students feel at fault for not knowing and make it difficult to engage with the course content.”

I honestly find some of this stuff hard to believe. I attended a notoriously left-wing Canadian university, and although I spent plenty of class-time debating other students, it was extremely rare for someone to claim that they were offended or to actually get outraged, at least in the context of the lecture hall or course seminars. Many of my university friends and classmates strongly disagreed with me on a wide range of issues, which quite frankly made our conversations much more interesting. I did graduate from university eight years ago, so I suppose it is possible that things have radically changed for the worse.

Of course, student politics is another thing entirely. As one conservative wryly told me when I got involved at Simon Fraser University, the rhetoric is the highest when the stakes are the lowest—and there were always plenty of social justice candidates running for obscure offices with magnificent promises to shake the corrupt and racist university to its very foundations. During my tenure there, most of these candidates got ignored and lost their elections badly (due to some scheming and coordinating among centre-right students of various stripes.) We certainly didn’t have a “student union race equality group co-chair,” which sounds like something made up as a joke to mock social justice warriors.

The strangest thing about stories like this is the extent to which students are in the driver’s seat, and many professors seem afraid to point out that they are students—that is, they are supposed to be there to learn things from other people who know far more about things than they do. These days, it often seems that the shoe is on the other foot—“woke” students explaining to impeccably left-wing professors how they have violated the ever-evolving laws of post-modern social justice, and demanding that their elders apologize and get re-educated so that it doesn’t happen again. The whole thing is a cringe-worthy and embarrassing spectacle.

Between progressive professors and snowflake students, I’m starting to see why Dr. Jordan B. Peterson advises young men and women to consider forgoing university.


For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.

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