Colleges have traditionally given students the unique opportunity to develop their individuality. Meeting friends, making connections, joining campus groups and developing both personal and professional interests have all been avenues through which college students are able to develop a personal identity. While this has traditionally been regarded as a positive aspect of college, I have found that individuality has been abandoned for the sake of a concept that holds more influence in college classrooms: victimhood.
Students have become more eager to identify as members of a historically persecuted group, rather than identify as an individual person. Countless times during my college career, I have encountered students who share their status as a minority as if this matters more than who they are as people.
During Justice Kavanaugh’s controversial appointment to the Supreme Court, my fellow female colleagues constantly referred to themselves as victims of horrible and systemic discrimination because they believed Roe v. Wade was under an imminent attack, and, as a result, their “basic and essential” rights to access abortion would be infringed upon. If you were a woman who evenly vaguely supported Kavanaugh, you were a traitor to womenkind and were immediately castigated as an implicit tool of the patriarchy.
I found these students more enthusiastic to portray themselves as the victims of sexism rather than people who had their own individual ideas. You couldn’t be against Kavanaugh simply because you disliked some of his ideas or even his character. You had to be against him because you were a woman and, therefore, part of a persecuted group.
Internalizing victimhood has been unfortunately reinforced by both college academia and broader society. Professors routinely ask students how their status as a member of a victim group has caused them to experience discrimination. While the answers always vary, a common thread connects them all: I am a part of this group, therefore, society automatically discriminates against me.
I have seen some students deny ever facing discrimination and the professor jumps in to assure them that they will undoubtedly encounter it one day. Professors are also eager to express their sympathy for these “victims,” whether this is by vocally supporting and empathizing with them during class or by giving them higher grades on assignments where their victimhood was mentioned. There is even an unspoken competition within college classroom to be the most intersectional student in the room and those who can check off the most victimhood boxes are afforded a quiet admiration from professors and administration. Their ideas are even taken more seriously when expressed in classes.
Our larger society also praises victimhood. Being a victim provides a person with a certain badge of honor and the respect of others. Jussie Smollett’s falsified hate crime has borne testament to this very fact.
The enthusiasm for being labeled as a victim on college campuses is a truly puzzling one, as individuality strikes me as something that is inherently a virtuous idea. Haven’t we all heard of the saying, “It takes all kinds?”
Individual differences, personal development of values and a variety of skills and interests are all concepts that seem essential and valuable for a healthy society. Victimhood creates an unsolvable dilemma, as the systemic discrimination is unidentifiable and, as a result, there are no tangible individuals or institutions to fight against. Students are left with faceless and ever-present forces working against them with every failure and disappointment attributed to them.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.