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'Snowflake Students' Need Reason And Debate, Not Wristbands

21/09/2017 12:42

'You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.'

This line from the 1996 novel 'Fight Club', first introduced the concept of the 'snowflake generation'. The line embodies the millennial sentiment of having less resilience than previous generations, being more prone to taking offence and being too emotionally vulnerable to cope with challenging views. A new scheme that involves giving bright coloured wristbands to undergraduates during fresher's week, in case they get lost, has caused concern for patronising these young adults. Snowflake students are further threatening free speech across UK universities, struggling to cope with ideas that conflict with their own. These millennial characteristics have unquestionable consequences, translating into generational vulnerability and a denial of free speech.

Accused of infantilising young adults by introducing these wristbands, gone are the days when students used their initiative to find their way home in a new city. The wristbands arguably demonstrate the preference for a taxi to campus, as opposed to the long cold walk. The accessibility of an Uber could potentially be why these wristbands were introduced. However, these wristbands are representative of the way millennials are excessively safeguarded because of their perceived vulnerability. Despite being adults, these wristbands reflect the overprotection of generation Y to the extent that it is considered patronising. Scaremongering in the news, overbearing parents and worrying statistics from the media, have left millennials vulnerable and feeling in need of guidance and help. Sure, this isn't the case for every undergraduate, but for the safeguarded, sheltered and spoilt 'snowflake students', this treatment is exactly what they're used to.

The wristbands are to an extent, a way for dutiful universities to feel they are protecting the 'snowflake generation'. If it's not the university helping them in some way, it's their parents. If it's not the parents, then the internet is always on hand to help teach them 'how to boil an egg'. My generation, is vulnerable and dependent on help, so much so that it has come to be expected. Whether we are seeking help from Google, seeking help or protection through our parents, or seeking help from an online community. Millennial safeguarding has existed for years, but only now generation Y is entering adulthood, has this safeguarding manifested itself into ways deemed 'patronising.'. Advancements in technology, excessive overprotection and dominant paternalism are to blame for this vulnerable and dependent culture. What this results in is a panic ridden generation who lack the capability to think for themselves, and who are dependent upon others for protection and help.

Snowflake students' political correctness and fear of addressing alternate views, is also threating free speech across UK universities. Twenty universities have banned newspapers, twenty-one have banned speakers, seventeen have banned certain adverts, nine have banned offensive fancy dress and sixteen have suspended student societies. It now looks as though there is no such thing as a 'pluralistic' university. Earlier this year Cardiff Metropolitan university banned several phrases that were deemed gender exclusive including 'Right-hand man' and 'gentleman's agreement', promoting more gender inclusive language instead. While an analysis by Spiked magazine, found that censorship on campus has dramatically increased over the past three years. This analysis found that a growing number of institutions were actively clamping down on ideas, literature and guest speakers that were not in line with their values. What this does is limit free speech and expression for all students.

Of course, most students do not wish to hear vitriolic diatribe on their campus, but excessive restraints and no platform policies limit the opportunity for debate. A university is expected to be a place where diversified opinions are encouraged and discussion promoted. Where language is censored and speakers banned, open discussion and debate are highly unlikely. Understanding each other's ideals through reason is what should be promoted in a university, however with millennials unable to cope with the views that differ to their own, freedom of expression is being restricted. As well as denying debate and discussion, these actions uphold the superiority of one viewpoint and ideology over another. With snowflake students' censorship policies in place, a restriction and denial of free speech looks likely to increase.

Millennials may need some help and guidance, but university is a great way for them to find independence without patronisation, demeaning treatment or infantalisation. From event planning, sporting success and new responsibilities, university can teach generation Y the essential skills they need to thrive in the economy. The best way for students to find independence however, is for them to learn for themselves and by themselves. The fear of offence and growing political correctness starts long before university, originating at home. Over protection and excessive safeguarding of the 'smartphone generation', has led to a hypersensitive, 'politically correct' society . The only way to diversify the views and opinions available is by encouraging debate, discussion and reason both in society and on campus.

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