Do taboo topics stifle students’ voices?

By on April 2, 2015

By Nick Amon–

College: a place where voices are found yet simultaneously challenged. A breeding ground for beliefs to be strengthened or dissolved. That being said, do we take the voice of others into consideration when expressing our own?


In order to be taken seriously inside a reality where almost anything an individual says can be used as ammunition against them later down the road, walking on eggshells has become a normative mannerism to keep in mind whenever someone voices their opinion. Granted, every voice should have the breathing room to be heard and hold the right to be respected by others, there’s a fine line between respecting the voice of others, and allowing this respect to overshadow your own.


Topics ranging from racism, rape culture, violence in the name of Islam, to white privilege, all seem to have become taboo subjects college students have feelings towards, yet fail to speak their minds upon whenever given the opportunity.


Politically correct is a phrase that refers to speaking in a manner that refrains from using language that has the possibility of offending any particular group of people. Though this is a great strategy for a politician to keep in mind, it remains yet a feeble approach for an undergrad to take on whole-heartedly.


“Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it.” This is what New York Times journalist Judith Shulevitz had to say regarding our reluctance as a generation of “politically correct” college students.


Shulevitz then went on to add within her op-ed dealing with the matter, “They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled.”


Not everyone agrees with Shulevitz and her criticism toward the hypersensitivity of college students.


Of those who disagree with Shulevitz, include New Republic magazine writer Pheobe Maltz Bovy who responded to Shulevitz’s op-ed with this, “It’s not that students demand that colleges provide a gated-community experience tailored to their every preference. Instead, the elite schools are selling that experience – and given the competitiveness of that marketplace, it’s hardly surprising that campus life sometimes crosses over into the ridiculous.”


Bovy and Shulevitz each hold credible points, but the problem is that the hypersensitivity among college students isn’t exclusive to the campuses of “elite” Ivy League universities that Bovy also claims within her article. The issue stretches across a larger spectrum of campuses that reaches all the way into the classrooms of public universities as well.


If we, as college students, turn the other cheek to this situation, we’re not only ignoring the opportunity of sharpening our skills of discussing controversial issues, but we’re robbing ourselves of growing into functional citizens with important voices.



Bovy who claims the fault should be placed upon the universities instead of the students, is right to a certain extent. Yet the responsibility simply cannot be casted entirely upon the schools. It’s the student’s responsibility to seek for change if they’re concerned of an issue arising here on campus, especially when discussing such a sensitive manner of having an influential voice.



It’s time for universities to stop coddling students, so in return they’re able to decipher the difference between constructive discussion and offensive discussion. Just as responsible for the matter, are the students themselves. If we don’t allow ourselves to voice our opinions and make mistakes from time to time in the process, we’ll never learn or develop into influential individuals.


It’s time to learn how to speak your mind in a diligent manner and understand how to do so without unintentionally targeting or throwing a specific group under the bus.


If we as college students silence ourselves long enough out of the fear of repercussion, we’ll not only go through college without a voice, but we’ll soon realize that we’ve gone through life without a voice.



About Nick Amon

Nick Amon is the Opinion Editor for The Louisville Cardinal, all views and opinions are of his own. If you have an opinion of your own that you'd like to see in The Cardinal, email him at [email protected]

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