I keep hearing about the coddling of America’s college students, but I’ve been teaching at a major university for almost 10 years and I haven’t seen it. People keep talking about “trigger warnings” and “microaggressions” but it’s not my students. This article in the Atlantic claims, “This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion.” I have not seen this either. There has always been some students who don’t like hearing things they don’t agree with, but this is not new.
Reading the article, it seems that they base their claims on a few extreme examples that are not indicative of the college experience across the board. They also misconstrue the purpose of Safe zones. I’m not an expert on these spaces, but from what I know from students, they are not meant to protect students from confronting ideas and beliefs they don’t like. They are places where students who experience discrimination can go to be themselves without fear of bullying, condemnation, or harassment. They still live in the real world where they are confronted by ideas and people they do not like. Nor are their examples of “coddling” an indication of what happens in the classroom, with a few exceptions as pointed out by the article. All professors that I know respect their students and do not intentionally go out of their way to offend their students, but they have not avoided teaching topics that may be uncomfortable for some students, even if the students feel offended as a result.
And I think it’s unfair to call these students coddled when they are under tremendous pressure to succeed (often defined solely in terms of financial success). They are also under a lot of pressure to achieve perfection in all aspects of their lives, which is in part responsible for the rise in student suicides.
Read the entire article here: How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus – The Atlantic.