Are Millennials Different From Otner Generations?

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 Fads, like swallowing live goldfish as a party trick and surfing on the hood of moving vehicles, may be on the list of college student contributions to America, but it cannot be denied that they have also contributed to the most important parts of modern history books such as the initiation of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the final decision of Brown vs Board of Education. College students are renowned for their activism and protests: often being the cornerstone for large social movements. Even so, it is still not unusual for older generations to degrade the up-and-coming one.

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People tend to shy away and fight against change especially when it is their descendants that are at the fore front. Fear and discomfort are often the rivals of progress, but elder generations often forget where they were twenty, thirty, even forty years ago when they also push against these pressures for social reformations. The Millennials are hardly different from any other generation of young adults fighting their way through the barriers of society that often attempt to keep youngsters in check. Furthermore, society must stop ignoring the political and social activism that college students preach, they must remove the unnecessary boundaries placed by censorship and the increasing abasement of the youth must be reduced, otherwise, society will lose their front line in the war for progression.

For the newest spoiled generation of college students, the statistics show that they are more than willing to fight unreasonable odds to reach their goals such as racism, crime and violence, and debt. When students choose seats in class, they do not pick the one where they can hear the teacher, or the one in the back so they can relax. Students choose the one closes to an exit in case of a shooter like Chris Harper-Mercer, a shooter at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, Adam Lanza of the Sandy Hook shooting. According to a report released by the US Department of Justice in 2014, 17 percent of college students had experienced some form of violence or harassment in the previous year. (Barnhardt) According to the director of the Center for Global Studies, Sophia A. McClennen, of Pennsylvania State University, of all college students, one third are the first of their families to attend a school for higher education, 43% are of color, 26% are undergraduates with dependent children, and of every five female students one will be sexually assaulted in college. Another study revealed that 79% of teachers are white (Douglas). To a student, these statistics are daily struggles. These issues are not the results of avid complaining, coddling of helicopter parents, or extreme sensitivities -these are real dangers the cause negative impacts on our students reaching towards higher education. 

Many authorities have claimed that tough love is the solution to the struggles of students who are complaining (also recognized as students who are protesting.) This is not the solution. The prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among students is increasing globally [1-7].(Tran)  Suicide, the most severe consequence of mental disorders, is the second highest cause of death among college students (behind car accidents), claiming the lives of more than 1,000 students a year. as mentioned in the article College Campus Safety. While it is true that students should not be babied, we must not impose more stress upon the students. This increase in mental illnesses applies to more than just anxiety and depression and cannot be ignored. Students are reaching points in their mental states of such extremities that they are unable to function normally. The approach to countering this growing issue would simply be to listen. Consider the young persons’ point of view and refrain from berating them.

While it is simply important to recognize students as actual human beings facing common struggles that have important things to say, we must acknowledge the educational benefits of allowing students to participate freely in political topics and to speak their minds without disdain from their elders. Research has shown that students engaged in activism reap educational benefits such as developing an inclination to continue their political participation well into mid-life and acquiring a greater sense of social responsibility and identity consciousness. (Barnhardt) 

In a society where censorship has become a requirement for any controversial issue, it is difficult to express and expand upon unpopular opinions. In an email written by a faculty member at Yale in 2015, it was said that censorship of Halloween costumes was entirely outlandish and offensive to the students of the community who want to enjoy their holiday (Christakis). This became a racial epidemic where students became extremely tense and divided. It is true that a hostile learning environment caused by offensive opinion could be avoided by the censorship but, this could also prevent students from learning how to handle themselves when they are offended and discourage students from standing up for their beliefs when they do not coincide with the popular opinion. The censorship remained.

Three years later students are being told that they are the most sensitive and coddled generation of college students. Their claims are being called lame and immature by older generations who claim that they were tougher and, ultimately, better than the youths they raised. As of 2018, a report by Gallup on the University of Nebraska revealed: 

Twenty-eight percent of students said they did not feel comfortable expressing their political views in conversations with their professors, and 31 percent said they feel uncomfortable sharing unpopular ideas in class. In general, 35 percent said they feared offending people on campus by speaking their minds.

Some professors shared that anxiety; 25 percent of faculty members said they were uncomfortable encouraging discussions of unpopular ideas, and 36 percent said they worried about causing offense by speaking freely. (Kolowich) 

As a community, we must reevaluate censorship in our school. Our millennials have been burdened with a barrier that prevents them from acknowledging reality and the effects are spiraling out into communities causing a wide spread state of ignorance. Topics such as racism, sex, gender preference, political standing, terrorism, etc… Should never be removed from a learning environment for potential offense and bias. Students must grow up with an open mind; therefore, removing these topics from school will render young people weak and naive. If a young person is raised in a society where sex is never discussed, then they would be left vulnerable to misleading rumors that could potentially change their life and that of others. If a young person is raised without mention of racism, they will be complete unsympathetic to marches in the name of equality. If a young person is denied proper education that could arm them with the most powerful weapon of knowledge, then they would be rendered useless to society and completely dependent upon others

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