The latest person to go viral with his strong feelings is Dr. Everett Piper, a university president from Oklahoma, who told students in no uncertain words that college is not a day care. In a recent blog post on Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s website, Piper doesn’t mince words as he expresses exactly how he feels about the generation of students he is observing at his university and campuses around the country.
In his post, which has since been shared thousands of times, he shares an incident that occurred on his campus after a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13, a passage famously known as the “love” chapter. According to Piper, a student expressed to the chaplain how offended he was by the guilt-inducing sermon.
Using the exchange between the chaplain and student, Piper then makes it very clear how he feels about the current culture in academia — and basically the entire population of college students in the United States.
“Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic,” he writes. “Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them 'feel bad' about themselves, is a 'hater,' a 'bigot,' an 'oppressor,' and a 'victimizer.'”
In a matter of a week, his thoughts have gained him attention from several major media outlets, and the response to his post seems to be split right down the middle. Many commenters have offered him a pat on the back, cheering him on for saying “what needed to be said” to a generation of “coddled babies.”
Many others have voiced their disapproval, pointing out that his views are just as closed-minded as he believes the subject of his blog post to be. It was his subtle criticism of other college campuses that has resulted in the most pushback.
“If you want to be enabled rather than confronted,” Piper writes, “there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.”
Commenters were quick to attack his use of an isolated incident on his campus to express backhanded criticism of protests addressing racial injustices on college campuses around the country, noting that changes do need to be made on campuses known for tolerating a culture of discrimination.
“Cultural appropriation is not okay; sexual assault is not okay; racial or religious oppression is not okay,” one commenter shares. “These things are actively happening on our campuses and in our worlds, and these are the things we are fighting against. Is it so bad that while trying to educate ourselves, we are also advocates for social change?”
Complaining that a sermon was offensive is not comparable to addressing issues of racial injustice on college campuses.
While it may be true that universities are not day cares, it isn’t exactly coddling to address hate crimes and acts of discrimination on campus. Universities should be required to offer a safe learning environment and equal access to education for all students, and since recent events suggest many schools are failing to do their part, students around the country are pushing back and demanding changes be made on their campuses and in their cities.
And that's something more university presidents — and anyone else railing about kids today — should value.
Even though millennials are the most educated generation to date, they also hold an unemployment rate of 37 percent, according to Pew Research Center. Studies like this seem to suggest there is a level of truth to the belief that the millennial generation is lazy and entitled, but it seems we are not entirely to blame. In fact, research suggests our parents’ tendency to helicopter parent may be behind some of the problems seen in our generation.
When kids speak up, we can't shut them down.
As parents, we can learn from the mistakes of previous generations. We should strive to reach a balance, giving our children the freedom and space they need to experience consequences and to grow into independent and self-sufficient adults instead of protecting them from the “unfairness” of the world we live in. Meanwhile, let’s not forget to honor their voice, letting them speak up and express their perspective on their experiences even if is different from ours.
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