Recently, there has been a public outcry from college students for their universities to implement "safe spaces" and utilize "trigger warnings" for subjects that may be considered offensive to students. Although there are some valid concerns with how colleges handle certain situations, when it comes to opinions, each student should be entitled to their own opinion. Students should be encouraged to voice their opinions, even if they offend someone. Yet, at my college, it seems that being offended has been taken to a new level.
At my school, I am an active member of the College Republicans. Typically, it is extremely difficult to maintain membership because on campus there is a very left wing ideological bias, but this year (surprisingly), there was a decent turn out for our first meeting. During the meeting, we spoke about our upcoming events, and found out from our president that one of our events was cancelled by the school. We were supposed to co-sponsor an American themed BBQ alongside the College Democrats and two residence halls on campus, and during the event, we were going to table to register students to vote. Everything was planned out and set when the school administration told us that the American theme must change or the event will be cancelled. Why? Because the theme was apparently not inclusive enough, our advertising was too 'militaristic' because the posters utilized the image of Uncle Sam, and the theme was considered offensive to the administration. Offensive. How is an America themed BBQ at a college in New Jersey, in the United States of America, considered offensive?
There are only a couple arguments against the BBQ that I can think of, and I can dispel both of them. First, I understand that not every single student on campus is from the United States. We do have international students, but these students chose to come to school in the United States to better their education and have a great college experience while being immersed in a different culture. An American themed BBQ should not infringe on their experience in the United States. Second, some might point out the use of the Uncle Sam image. Although the image does have its roots in military recruiting, the image has been utilized in so many different ways since its beginning. Many groups, businesses, etc, reproduce the image for advertising. Other groups and clubs at our school have been able to use the image, but when the political groups on campus try to use it as a harmless form of advertising for a BBQ, it is considered too militaristic.
This issue was swept under the rug like nothing happened, and to some it may seem quite trivial, but to me this spells out a larger message: that a lot of colleges and universities in today’s society are willing to shut down students’ opinions in fear of offending someone. They are more concerned with their reputation than anything else, and are willing to shut down student voices to maintain it. College is where you are supposed to form your own opinions and grow, so why aren’t universities supporting that?
Within the United States, we should be proud to sport red, white and blue. We should be proud to call ourselves American, no matter our gender, race or sexual orientation. We should be appreciative of the fact that we even get to go to college, because there are so many others who do not get that chance. We are LUCKY to live in the United States, and we, as citizens, should be more grateful for that.