During the last few years, protests on college campuses have skyrocketed, garnering national media coverage from mainstream news sources and criticism from skeptical Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers. Students claim they cannot go about daily life without the imminent threat of sexual assault or massacre, and protest critics' “futile” proposition that they would feel safer if they could “detach themselves from their phones.” Leading experts on the psychological and neurological development of teenagers––most of whom have not been teenagers for decades––report that the endemic condition stems from self-imposed isolation, and can be solved by restricting use of social media.
“Kids these days need to grow a thicker skin. They forget that every time they get in a car, they are risking their lives,” Idaho Republican Senator and former physician Jim McConnell says. “They expect everyone to accommodate for their various needs.” According to McConnell, common demands of “kids these days” range from extensions on college-level assignments to lecturers putting out disclaimers so that certain audience members know when to “cover their ears.”
McConnell’s colleague, Rep. Mark Smith, adds, “The thing about these kids is that they’re too sensitive. They were never drafted in a war, they never saw a President assassinated and they’re just plain naïve.” *
The fruit of contention college students are advocating for is called a “safe space” ––in other words, they request there be spaces on campus that are free of assumptions and prejudice. “A lot of older people don’t understand the effect that years of microaggressions have on someone,” says Alexis Ramos, a student and campus organizer at Grassy Knoll University. “They think we’re being oversensitive, but the truth is, we’ve always felt this vulnerable–– we just didn't have the momentum to act on it.”
While prominent figures like McConnell and Smith claim the younger generation’s requests for safe spaces are injurious and indicative of the profound weaknesses of political correctness, activists dismiss their beliefs as derailment from the real problem. “The point is, there is no such thing as a ‘safe space,’ even in the literal sense of the word. Older people usually assume a ’safe space’ is a zone where opposition and hurt feelings don’t exist, but they haven’t acknowledged the physical, tangible component. My friends and I can’t go to a nightclub, frat party or health clinic without fearing for our lives.” Ramos’ friend Emily Hurston explains that every time she goes to a religious service, club, party or at her local women’s clinic, she texts her mother beforehand denoting which items of jewelry and clothing to endow her younger sister with in the case she doesn’t survive.
*Upon examination of records, it was discovered that Smith learned of an undisclosed medical problem in February of 1970, shortly after the draft for the Vietnam was imposed. Additionally, he was twelve years old and living in England for his father’s job when JFK was shot and killed.
-- Julia Smith