When I was in undergrad, my class and I weren’t very vocal about who performed for homecoming or who spoke at our graduation. We were more concerned with how much is it to get into the concert and how much longer do we have to wait before we can march across the stage.
But today’s undergraduates have lots to say.
Just recently, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), decided not to speak at Smith College’s commencement after students petitioned her selection, citing they didn’t want to “encourage the values and ideals that the IMF fosters.” As if no Smith graduate would accept a job offer from IMF post graduation, especially if it were the only one. Please.
And earlier this same month, former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice backed out of delivering her commencement speech to Rutgers University graduates in New Jersey because students and faculties protested her role in the Iraq War. Never mind they were both powerful women holding important positions.
The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi says the class of 2014 just needs to calm the hell down. She writes:
Millennials have grown up in a world where you are never forced to see, hear or read anything that you haven’t personally selected. 7,000 TV channels, a DVR to skip commercials, millions of websites—we have been able to curate our own little worlds using technology, wherein nothing unpleasant or offensive can creep in. So when we’re forced to sit through a commercial or, heaven forbid, listen to someone talk who isn’t Mary-freakin’-Poppins, we can’t handle it.
The entire point of college is to be exposed to different things: Different types of people, different ideas—and maybe some of those people will hail from organizations that negatively impacted poor countries, or maybe they were partly responsible for a war that ate up the country’s resources and resulted in human rights abuses and lots of needless death. But if, at the end of your time as an undergrad, you haven’t learned that oftentimes you find great wisdom in shitty people, or just that there might be some value in hearing what someone you don’t like or respect might have to say, what on earth have you learned?
I’ll have to agree Nuzzi. This generation is too fragile, too picky, too opinionated, too “holier-than-thou” and too spoiled. They’re used to a “Burger King” sort of life, and when they can’t have things their way, they condemn anyone in disagreement. It would be interesting to see how millennials fare in corporate America where conflict isn’t resolved via a protest or change.org petition or an immunity stick on Survivor (although there are plenty of times I wished it were possible.)
But sometimes the opposition just doesn’t agree because (gasp!) she does have fresher ideas and more useful advice from her prior experiences, so it really doesn’t hurt to listen. Or as Nuzzi affectionately words it: shut the f—k up.