Sheltered college students will be ill-equipped for life
Views 144 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 25 - 2017 | By: Mason Garell
The pursuit of knowledge is the cornerstone of learning at any school or university. Weighing different arguments and perspectives increases the wisdom of students, and allows them to engage in any intellectual setting. Most importantly, students need to be able to tackle complex and offensive topics in order to be mature adults capable of enacting practical and effective solutions in society. Sadly, the mission of colleges around the country at large has prioritized emotional comfort over learning various perspectives.
As the university has coddled its students in an attempt to make them feel safe, it has crippled the capacity to tolerate others and respect their right to free speech. Anything subjectively decided as offensive is now considered hate speech and is not tolerated across the country. A culture of silence has emerged out of microaggressions, safe spaces, and trigger warnings.
Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU, documented the destruction of students on campus in his article, “The Coddling of The American Mind.” As a psychologist, he explains that cognitive therapy is a proven way to help many mental disorders: patients walk through their chain of thoughts, eradicate the irrational ones (cognitive distortions), and build a healthy new thought process. The culture of microaggressions, safe spaces, and trigger warnings does precisely the opposite of cognitive therapy. Any perceived threat of offense is not questioned and examined, but immediately given validity and priority. As students never question their emotions through introspection, this victimhood culture manifests itself in egregious ways.
Haidt writes in his article that madness ensued at the University of Michigan after a student named Omar Mahmood wrote a satirical article about microaggressions. He was fired from his school paper where he also worked, and a group of women vandalized his doorway with eggs, hot dogs, gum, and one note that read, “everyone hates you, you violent prick.”
Another example Haidt details comes from UCLA, where students staged a sit-in at a class taught by Val Rust. Rust pointed out to one of the students that she had incorrectly capitalized the letter I in indigenous, when it should have been lowercase. This grammatical correction was viewed by the student group as an assault on the identity of the student and her ideology.
The origins of this cancerous trend on campus stem from some understandable intentions. People’s impulse to protect those who don’t look, pray, or talk like them is admirable; it just needs to be extended to those who don’t think like them as well. Additionally, the equation between speech and violence needs to be condemned.
Given the enormous investment students make into college, they should be adequately prepared for their field of interest. Students spend crucial years and often hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend universities. This investment should yield an inquisitive and mature adult ready to face the brutality life often brings. Cloistering students in a cocoon of comfort devolves them into immature children as opposed to evolving them into mature professionals.
People who shield themselves from opposing ideas do not develop arguments or ways to cope with dissenting opinions. Life outside of the university is often harsh and demanding. Constantly demanding that one’s employers or co-workers cater to one’s own subjective list of unoffensive beliefs and language will guarantee failure in any professional endeavors. Universities should return to valuing wisdom over comfort if they want to actually prepare their students for the real world.