Pity the poor student activists at Ohio’s Oberlin College. As though succeeding in school were not hard enough, these students are facing an impossible dilemma: How can they possibly do well academically when so much of their time must be spent protesting the world’s injustices?
Well, they can’t.
But instead of turning to themselves in a noble effort to put their priorities in order, they are demanding that Oberlin administrators overhaul the college’s education system to meet their special needs. 1,300 students have signed a petition to force the college to do away with bad grades, turn written exams into casual conversations, and provide additional support for their ultra-important social justice battles.
“You know, we’re paying for a service,” one Oberlin student told The New Yorker. “We’re paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it.”
It makes you think of that contact lens commercial where the guy talks about his “special eyes.” Our college campuses are filled to the brim with students who think they have special eyes. Special little needs that must be carefully met. They have become a weird hybrid: Part adult, part baby. At a time in life when humans typically crave independence, these students demand to be coddled.
One student named Zakiya Acey told the New Yorker that the college should not force him to take a written exam. “There’s professors who have openly been like, ‘Yeah, instead of, you know, writing out this midterm, come into my office and you can just speak it,’ right? But that’s not institutionalized,” he lamented. “I have to find that professor.”
There’s this kneejerk tendency to loathe these people, but the first line of this story wasn’t meant sarcastically. These students really do deserve our pity. They are too young and too ignorant to see the cold splash of reality waiting for them in a few short years, if not sooner. They say they want to change the world, but they really want the world to change for them. And if they can’t shake that mindset, their lives are going to be frustrating, angering, and depressing.
But if you can’t muster up any pity, don’t worry about it. They have more than enough of it for themselves.