Rutgers students debate benefits, issues with political correctness


Microaggressions, trigger warnings and a new language for being politically correct is a hot topic on college campuses, and Rutgers students are eager to weigh-in on the pros and cons.

There should be a balance between not offending others, and still being able to discuss sensitive subjects, said Chelsea Lebron, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. Even if certain topics are delicate, they may still have their place in higher education.

“I think being politically correct is important,” said Suntan Kaur, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. “I think there are certain things you have to be very clear about and there are certain things you shouldn’t say, because it can be like attacking someone’s presence sometimes.”

This is not the first time that young people have attempted to create a more politically correct language. Last year, for example, students at Princeton University protested the name of the school's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. This wave of syntax activism is geared toward the importance of emotional well-being, according to an article in The Atlantic. 

Lebron believes it is important for students to feel welcome in any environment and not be excluded by someone’s word choice.

“I think it’s a positive thing, because when speaking in general terms you don’t want to offend anyone with what you say,” said Austin Renna, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Because of the rise of political correctness, college students have been stereotyped for being over sensitive and easily offended, according to an article in The Atlantic. But the article notes that it is important to understand political correctness is an innate trait of all college-goers.

“It’s something that you learn. You can’t attack someone for not knowing something because (we are growing up) in a certain culture where we have to unlearn things,” Kaur said.

People should also be aware that anyone not using politically correct terminology deserves the chance to learn more appropriate phrasing, Kaur said.

But being politically correct is not just geared at liberals, as President Barack Obama said at an Iowa town hall.

“Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too,” Obama said.

Critics of political correctness worry that it is making students too sensitive, according to The Atlantic. But it is also important to consider that an awareness, or hyper-awareness depending on whom you ask, is coming during a time when people are connected to each other more than ever.

“If you’re just so worried about offending someone that you end up offending someone, it doesn’t help anything,” Renna said. “But if you take it into account and are aware without making it your whole point (it can be helpful).”

People should not be afraid to argue with those they disagree with, Obama said.

“But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I'm too sensitive to hear what you have to say,'" he said.

This addresses most of the concerns of critics of politically-correct culture, that students are being too sheltered from important topics.

But despite controversy, it seems that politically correct vernacular seems to have carved out its own place amongst Rutgers students and in colleges across the country.

“I think being politically correct is important and has its place,” said Nana Adu, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.


Brittany Gibson

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