Campus provides opportunity to move forward

Protestors+hold+a+rally+at+Alma+Mater+on+Jan.+30.

Brian Bauer

Protestors hold a rally at Alma Mater on Jan. 30.

By Hayley Nagelberg, Columnist

Last spring, I sat in a convention center in Washington D.C. in an audience of solely college students. The speaker told us that, contrary to the often quoted expression that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, he believes that the youth could be the leaders of today.

As members of the end of the millennial generation, and especially as millennial college students, our reputation is not the most pristine. We’ve heard it all before: We’re narcissistic and lazy and entitled and don’t know how the real world works. Well for the time being, we have the opportunity to not fully be in the real world.

A college campus provides a microcosm view of society, an incredibly diverse group of students living together in a set geographic area balancing education, leadership growth and a personal life.

Since we left campus in the spring, this country has seen increased tension, acts of hate and the reactivity to these matters that followed. We left the confines of our campus to travel the world, focus our educational pursuits at an internship and gain experience in traditional work environments. We’re returning to campus refreshed and refocused while the country around us is fractured and struggling.

The events that took place on a college campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, have electrified a conversation that doesn’t seem to be letting up. What happened is disgusting, infuriating and terrifying. But to see it covered in the media as it was proved only to add to the hype and further divide our country.

We cannot claim to be a generation embracing intersectionality while using that term to divide the country based on every identity anyone can possess. The number of posts I watched roll through my social media condemning the acts and calling out Nazism and racism, yet leaving out anti-Semitism, was astonishing.

The evidence was far too apparent of how many people only watch one set viewpoint of news they believe in and failed to recognize the opposing side of political leadership speaking, even if they disagreed with their messages. The projection that this event would only be covered by some American media based on politics was shocking.

Last April, the number of people in the millennial generation surpassed the baby boomer generation in America. With little exception, the baby boomer generation will continue to shrink now and the millennial generation will hold close steady. The millennial generation is the most diverse generation in the history of this country. The majority of top leadership posts are still held by older generations, and only now is the millennial generation at large beginning to rise through the ranks of the work force and political world.

So while the acts in Virginia, and other acts of hate that have been broadcast to our society in the last number of weeks, need to be talked about, and deserve the anger they received, there is now an opportunity to review how we react as a generation to these events. They should not be pinned on individuals or one party over another. By doing so, we will only divide our nation further.

All kind, smart, rational people, regardless of any identity, should see the horror in these acts and should be able to call them out and act in their frustration in their own way. An alarmist reaction is not the answer; there needs to be a way for a nuanced conversation, and anything but nuance will lead to more acts of hate.

As a campus, we can decide to throw rallies and protests where we continue to pit ourselves against each other. We can stay in the confines of our established social groups surrounded by similar people, or we can take advantage of the incredible opportunity to be in our college bubble and create opportunities for ourselves to get out of our comfort zones, meet people with different backgrounds and experiences and challenge the state in which the rest of the country finds itself.

If we as a community can find a way to do that, then the rest of the nation can follow suit and see our generation for what we truly are — the leaders of today.

Hayley is a junior in ACES.

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