How to defuse student anxiety


The issue of carrying guns on college campuses has been settled in Texas – at least for now at state-supported universities – but campus carry still will be debated. This week, the Georgia Legislature is considering a similar campus gun law, which prompted the article linked at the bottom of this post.

Written by Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost and published in The Atlantic this week, the article discusses the stress and anxiety the author finds pervasive among this generation of college students and why allowing guns on campus is not a solution. It is long but worth reading.

“Today’s college students are beset by unease. And it’s no wonder why – their whole lives have been lived bathed in vague and constant threat,” Bogost writes.

Today’s 21-year-old students were in kindergarten when terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and have grown up during the “war on terror,” he points out. They began high school just after the 2008 global financial crisis, which precipitated billions of dollars in government cuts to primary, secondary and higher education. Scholarships were reduced, and tuition and fees were increased.

Sound familiar?

Getting into college also has become more difficult, Bogost points out, because of an “arms race” to raise test scores and rankings. And, once in college, young people are building mountains of student debt while facing increased competition for even entry-level jobs.

“It’s entirely reasonable for young people to fear a future that has never been more tenuous,” he writes. “There are reasons to fear on college campuses. But those fears are misdirected at hypothetical bad guys with guns against whom good guys with guns would prevail.”

Bogost believes America would be better off – and I agree – if lawmakers instead took more meaningful steps to address students’ anxiety.

“We can do that by providing the resources to teach them well as kids, to give them affordable opportunities to pursue higher education, and to help them secure productive places in society matched to their talents and capacities.” he says.

That approach, however, would require more thoughtfulness, statesmanship and commitment of resources than merely waving the Second Amendment requires.



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