Are Universities Brainwashing our Kids?

Universities are supposed to be bustling with new ideas and be places of debate . They are supposed to be places of learning, but are they also places of brainwashing? This has been a debate for quite awhile. Many are worried that their young adults are being brainwashed, usually into secular progressiveness. I’m going to graduate soon, and I’m mulling over this issue.

First, let’s determine what this brainwashing could entail. For example, if grades were assigned based solely on whether or not the professor agreed with a paper or project, that would be a enormous problem. By contrast, how a paper should be graded does depend somewhat on the class. An English paper judges writing skill. Philosophy papers are supposed to be graded on the strength of arguments etc.  Another example of brainwashing might be if only the arguments supporting a professor’s stance were showcased in the readings and lectures.

As for me, I have run into very little of this. Still, universities are supposed to be, well, universities. They are not around to coddle to ideas that haven’t been questioned before, and many students probably have many ideas that they have never questioned. They may end up changing their positions after having thought more about them. That is only natural. Perhaps, they find the ideas they were raised with untenable.

Still if any the aforementioned unfair grading practices are being used, people everywhere should speak out. Our young adults minds are precious. That being said they are adults, and if they disagree with a particular professor’s point of view they should argue with them. That’s the point of it all.


Trigger Warnings University Edition

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not certain courses or the material should come with a trigger warning. For example, some want trigger warnings on poems or books that depict rape scenes. On one side, there are people who are against trigger warnings. From their perspective, universities are supposed to be challenging even if certain topics make students feel uncomfortable. On the opposite side, their are people who argue that people should feel safe at universities. I disagree with both arguments.

While I agree in part with those who don’t advocate trigger warnings, I think it depends on what we mean by “trigger.” In lay people terms, “trigger” simply means something that makes someone uncomfortable. Most of the time, I think we are talking about making someone more than a little uncomfortable. Usually, the person triggered has experienced trauma, so “uncomfortable” is an understatement.

Still, it really depends on the trauma victim. I’m a survivor of abuse, and uncomfortable is generally the correct term for what I experience when abuse is brought up in conversation, books, and the like. However, not every trauma victim is as lucky as I am. Some experience PTSD, and this is a very different thing. Uncomfortable for these people is a very drastic understatement, when speaking about triggers.

Students who have PTSD are the ones I’m concerned about; because, I agree universities should be in the business of talking about uncomfortable topics. However, there are veterans, for example, who could potentially have PTSD who use GI bills to pay for school. Now some would argue trauma victims should seek treatment. Well, yes, they should. Still, they have a right to an education. Meanwhile, if someone is so emotionally damaged that they cannot handle even moderate triggers, then perhaps they should postpone an education.

I’m neither 100% for or against trigger warnings. I, do, think it depends on the content. A university professor, for example, should not be in the business of using gunshot noises without warning. Although, I do not know how that scenario would happen. Perhaps, what is needed is not so much trigger warnings. Instead, course should make clear the topics of the coursework during registration. This could simply be addressed in a subject line and some amount of an about section.

However, let me be clear: universities should not water down the material or coursework.