There’s a popular and trite criticism that college students cannot handle scary ideas and therefore need to censor any dissenting opinion. However, especially in the last week, people employ this rhetoric when it is not warranted. So before you copy and paste that article again about Obama criticizing “coddled” liberals, let’s define what coddling isn’t.
Calling out hate is not coddling. Upon being called out on spewing something overtly hateful, conservatives dive into the coddled defense. If President Roth expelled students who make racist statements, that would constitute coddling and most of the white students would be kicked out immediately. But, calling out racism is not coddling because racism is not an opinion: racism is pretty much just hate. Many of the students at Wesleyan experience racism, sexism, and discrimination based on their sexuality every day. So they are not shielding themselves from reality but rather just improving this community by not permitting hate to go unchecked.
Trigger warnings are not coddling either. For whatever reason, trigger warnings on college campuses are often trashed by the media. Understanding that trigger warnings are not infantile college students’ method of hiding from the “real world” is critically important. Trigger warnings represent common human decency. In only two weeks as a student at Wesleyan, I’ve read detailed, horrifying accounts of racism, sexism, and suicidal actions. Forcing someone suffering from PTSD or grappling with suicidal thoughts to read that is not you preparing anyone for life outside of college; it’s you being an a**hole.
Finally, the desire for journalistic integrity is not coddling. Recently, the Argus published an opinion piece by Bryan Stascavage that was poorly researched and misconstrued reality. Many students have no qualms with conservatism on this campus, but many take great offense to what was published because not only did the piece reduce a history of institutional racism in the police to “a few bad apples” but it also bore the Argus stamp of approval. No one wants the Argus free of conservatism, but many students would like all pieces associated with the newspaper to be properly vetted. Stascavage and every student’s first amendment rights rest safely and dissent proves valuable in college, but should we indiscriminately celebrate and publish every opinion even if it is born out of ignorance or hate?
Perhaps there exists a trend of selective listening in college. But does that problem not exist within every community in every age group? Over the past two weeks, I have been exposed to many voices and ideas that are often ignored in the “real world.” Perhaps the notion of “coddled minds” is ludicrous. But whichever proves correct, the above examples are not symptoms of liberal students protecting themselves from controversial ideas.
Aberle is a member of the Class of 2019.