As chair of the Slippery Rock College Republicans, I never thought I would see a day where President Obama spoke the thoughts that consistently run through my head. However, during his speech on September 14th in a Des Moines, Iowa, high school, Obama perfectly reflected my opinion on the obsession with political correctness that has taken over college campuses when he said:
“I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative, or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African Americans, or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. And I’ve got to tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, you have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.”
This protection is a new phenomenon on college campuses. Universities are putting out lists of “trigger words” and are not allowing speakers who may “offend” certain students. For example, words such as “terrorism” or phrases like “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” are considered by some to be “offensive.” How is this preparing students to obtain jobs where they might have to, (gasp!) work with those they disagree with? I agree that there are certainly words and phrases that are offensive, but the rate at which we are currently moving is exponential.
Recently, Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate for President, spoke at Liberty University, a right-wing conservative college. While attendance at his speech was essentially mandatory for students, he was still respected. There was no boycott. Time and time again, Republican speakers and ideas have been protested and boycotted at other universities. George W. Bush, while he was still President, received negative feedback about speaking at the Ohio State University. Showings of American Sniper were also canceled at the University of Michigan. In 2013, Ben Carson withdrew himself from speaking at Johns Hopkins University in face of protest. Many comedians are now refusing to perform at colleges, because they think college students cannot handle the real world or even hear jokes about it. College campuses used to be the breeding grounds of free speech and person opinion, but that time is quickly ending. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that in 2015, 55% of 437 universities had policies in place to limit speech.
I found the recent opinion piece in The Rocket, “Pledge of Allegiance isn’t representative of all Americans” almost laughably comical. The author wrote, “conservative values tightly grasp America.” Clearly this author has no idea what it is like to be a Republican on a college campus. Every time I feel the need to put my opinion on social media, I fear the attack of liberals. When I speak up in class, I can feel the glares and eye rolls of my disrespectful peers. I have freedom of speech, but many times when I use it, I feel bombarded and have chosen to silence myself on many occasions. This is also coming from a female Republican who does not hold deeply conservative views (I am a pro-choice, pro-marriage equality Republican, we do exist). If you hold any type of conservative, Republican values, your views are seen as “offensive”, and they are not respected in America and especially not on a college campus. To make the world not offensive to one group, another group is squashed of their beliefs, and this is consistently happening to Republicans in America.
College is the time in our lives where we are able to come to terms with ourselves. You learn about the world beyond your parent’s houses and are exposed to other viewpoints.
Students should challenge their own perspective. If we never see what the other side is saying how do we truly know what we believe? College students need a wake up call. I was raised under the saying “life’s not fair and then you die.” Yes, it’s a little harsh but I am able to see the world realistically, unlike many of my peers. It’s time to wake up Slippery Rock, the world is not fair and you will not be protected from every little thing. Go outside your comfort zone and actually learn about the people and positions you so adamantly want to destroy. Stop being so thin-skinned or the real world will eat you alive when you graduate.