I’m a High School Senior, and College is Scaring Me

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Since my first day of freshman year, I’ve been chomping at the bit to be a senior.  Large amounts of stress, tears, and vocab quizzes later, now I’m here. It’s exciting being a senior (for all you underclassmen, it’s as great as you’ve heard).  One of the best aspects of senior year is that I will be going to college in a matter of months. I’m so excited for the new freedom I will have, the people I will meet, and… micro-aggression?

In light of recent events at numerous universities, I’m sure you picked up on the sarcasm. The American college campus is quickly turning into a breeding ground for regressive political correctness.  Years of coddling and over-protection have resulted in entitled students who have a complete disdain for views that oppose their own. Their opposition is so stark that they protest and manipulate until people that disagree with them are punished. As a soon-to-be incoming freshman, this is extremely unsettling.

I’m unsettled because of the power these new groups are getting. Any time they feel offended, oppressed, or verbally abused, a dumpster fire of protests and tension ensues. They are so afraid of opinions that counter their own that they will inure and attack opposing views. They make claims of racism, sexism, and social class oppression to accuse people of opposing views of  “hate speech”.

As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, authors of The Coddling of the American Mind, put it, “this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.”

In essence, they trample on a person’s free speech so they can protect their own free speech. Added to this, many of the supporters of the above movement are calling for criminalization of students and faculty found guilty of micro-aggression. Calling a person who says some mean or offensive words a criminal is borderline insane, but also not constitutionally sound. In 1999 the supreme court case of Davis vs. Monroe County Board of Education states that “a single comment or thoughtless remark by a student does not equal harassment”.

I’ll admit, I’m confused by the above situation. What baffles me the most is the power that people are placing on words. A few words taken out of context or misheard now have the power to send a college campus into turmoil. Why is this? Disagree with me if you want, but I’ve always been under the impression that words are this crazy thing called words; nothing more than your larynx vibrating in a manner that allows sound of a specific pitch, volume, and frequency to meet your ears. Since when has this been able to cause so much offense and aggravation? 

There is a time and place for uproar over verbal abuse. Our country is inherently flawed, and people should have the right to protest what they think is wrong. There is nothing wrong with this, but the way people protest in 2015 is beginning to enter a realm that is no longer acceptable. Protesting should be a call for conversation; an invitation for debate on what is wrong. In today’s society, the concept of rational discussion is skipped due to fear of disagreement.

I know that I am not the only person who feels this way. In a poll conducted on 100 WCA students and faculty, the question was raised, “do you agree with the vindictive protectiveness movement?” (As a recap, vindictive protectiveness is the movement that seeks to punish anyone who interferes with a group’s ideas, whether purposefully or accidentally). 97% percent disagreed with the movement. Some may blame this statistic on Westminster’s inherent “white privilege”, but I see it more as common sense. To explain, think of it like this.

Imagine all the “offensive” talk you hear walking the hallways of Westminster. I get it, sometimes there are some awful things said, but have you ever been so offended that you would protest the school and punish the perpetrator of the “mean word”?

Of course you wouldn’t . Words are just words, right? It’s simple logic. Words can only hurt a person if they let it. Strong people brush off verbal abuse. Weak individuals let it get them; let it make them so offended that they feel compelled to cause a scene. If this is the case, it seems that colleges are receiving an influx of weak minded, soft students.

It’s hard to fix a weak mind. The difference between mental strength and weakness is a choice. Obviously strength is the harder choice, but more and more students seem to be taking the easy way out. Unfortunately, there isn’t much anyone can do to fix this. People will simply keep on being offended, and the education of the rest of us will be hindered. People fail to listen to the words of men like Dr. Everett Pipe, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, who claims “This is not a day care! This is a University”. Until people begin to treat college as a place for learning instead of a place of safety, the concept of higher education will be ruined for the strong. For the time being, college isn’t the gateway to freedom, but the path to safe-zones and micro-aggression. Maybe one day this will change. Until then, college won’t be the place I thought it would be.