One of the top trending stories on the NEWS10 ABC page today is about a black college student who posted an ad seeking a “non-white” roommate. Not surprisingly, people went a little nuts pointing out that if a white person placed an ad saying “only whites” should apply, Al Sharpton would rally his troops and march on the school.
You might be shocked, but that’s not what bugged me about the story, and I think everyone missed the larger point.
The student who placed the advertisement, Kare Urena, of Clairmont, Calif., said he didn’t mean to offend anyone; he just wanted to create a “safe space” to learn. One can only assume from that statement that Mr. Urena wants to hang with people who are like him culturally and avoid any clash of ideas.
My question is why? How do you expect to learn and grow as a person if you only surround yourself with people who agree with you?
Our colleges have become entirely too safe a zone in my opinion, and we have allowed young adults to place themselves in an intellectual bubble. Someone writing the name of a presidential candidate in chalk on the sidewalk is really not an offense that merits calling the campus police (as we saw at Emory College in March.) If you don’t like the name, step over it and move on.
I’ve read there are a number of comedians who refuse to perform at colleges anymore over fear the little cupcakes in the audience will be offended if they hear a joke that rattles their cage a bit. Again, can you grow up and get over it please. Or better yet don’t buy a ticket to the show.
College is precisely the place to challenge your beliefs, open your mind to opposing views, and defend what you believe when needed. It’s OK to expose yourself to that which is different or out of your comfort zone.
When I went away to SUNY Oswego a million years ago, I had no clue who my roommate would be, and when they placed me with a smartass from Long Island it was a bit jarring but the two of us got used to each other and we are still good friends to this day.
My point is different is good. If you spend your college years searching out “safe zones” and worrying about “trigger words,” you’ll miss out on an education in real life. You’ll also set yourself up for a real shock when you graduate and go into the real world and the boss isn’t as concerned about your sensitivity or feelings as your college dean.
I don’t know this young man, Kare, but I’ll bet you if he had rolled the dice and invited someone into his life that he would normally never hang out with, both he and the roommate would have been the better for it.