We’re in another great age of fighting for rights, it seems. Internet privacy, transgender rights, and religious freedom seem to be some of those coming under fire. You would hope a college student wouldn’t have to worry as much about that. What with living off ramen and fighting to get good grades, they have enough on their plate. But college campuses are some of the places where the discussions on rights are getting more and more heated.
It’s a controversial idea to some. When the line between free expression and hate speech seems blurred, which side is safest to land on? It’s a question that requires a look at the context to really judge. In the context of college, however, there’s a fear that we’re coddling the mind of the average student. Though it should be a place of safe education for all, it should be a place where ideas can be exchanged and explored. This includes those ideas that should be rightfully torn to pieces. What we shouldn’t do is pretend they don’t exist.
There are no blurred lines about this right. While it seems like the people in power at the moment are all-too-happy to backpedal on rights for women and transgendered people, colleges are where that can be of most harm. We need to protect things like Title IX athletics and enrollment rights and ensure they’re enforced wherever they need to be. Otherwise, we’re leaving people vulnerable to harassment and groups like transgendered people cut off from the opportunities they should have every access to.
A lot of campuses have been making moves in the right direction in terms of guaranteeing the safety of their students. Landmark cases like that of Angie Epifano saw Amherst College investigating and updating its own sexual assault policies. But even still, even in low-crime areas, students have a higher risk of coming in contact with violence and unsafe situations. Pressure needs to keep being applied on colleges to put aside their public relations for the sake of being able to guarantee student safety.
Peace of mind
It’s a problem that’s growing in every kind of environment. At home, in the workplace, and in the lecture hall, stress is a growing concern. Fewer students feel like they’re able to cope with the stress they feel in the academic environment. One of the greatest concerns, still, is the state of the economy and dealing with a heavy student debt with no guaranteed career prospects. Student loans really can ruin a life financially if they’re left unchecked, which is why so many are still getting public momentum behind the idea of student loan forgiveness pushed by people like Bernie Sanders during the primaries.
Advocating to protect rights isn’t always an easy thing, especially when it seems like protecting one right might infringe on another. However, in today’s political landscape, it’s becoming clear that said campuses are now the breeding grounds for many a political movement, so it pays to get involved and make a difference early.