Opinion | University students may be moralistic but it is for all the right reasons


By Isobel Turner, Second Year, Liberal Arts

Are university students becoming too moralistic? It is undeniable that, in the last few years it has become common in the media to paint young people’s morals in a negative light and to call them the ‘snowflake generation’ - a derogatory term for young people who are viewed as not being resilient enough and being too easily offended.

However, it is important to note the overwhelming issues that current students are facing when questioning their morality. There appears to be an underlying attitude that students are addressing issues from a point of privilege and that they are sheltered from the outside world.  

This misconception could not be more misplaced, as even though students are younger and receiving education, this does not mean that they have not faced or are not facing struggles in their lives whether those struggles be in their personal lives or whether they come in the form of a societal oppression.

'Are university students becoming too moralistic?' | Epigram / Alice Proctor 

Commentators like Dominic Sandbrook have long since argued that students are ‘so frightened of being offended that they require ‘trigger warnings’ before having to deal with even the tamest material.’

It almost goes without saying that material that could be deemed as ‘tame’ to one person could have had a large personal impact on someone else. It is important to recognise that everyone has had different experiences, so it is ignorant to deem any material as ‘tame’ as this is a subjective term based on personal experience.

It is practically impossible for someone of an older generation to write of the experiences of students today as, to put it simply, they just have not experienced it.

Students’ mental health has gotten significantly worse over the past few decades

It is also believed that while students in the past have campaigned for idealism, they are now campaigning from a place of self-pity. However, students’ mental health has gotten significantly worse over the past few decades, and while I am sure that using mental health as an argument would incite further criticism due to the societal stigma surrounding it, this merely reinforces my argument.

The issues that student’s face today cannot be compared or fully understood by someone who has not experienced being a student in our current society.

Many of the arguments against students and their morality are built on a false premise. Students are not campaigning from self-pity, to the contrary, they are involved in campaigning against many international issues such as racism, climate breakdown and equality.

The climate crisis is also a significant problem faced by young people today

This shows the admirable way in which students unite to fight for the greater good and for the lives of future generations.

Moreover, many students are simply conscious of the fact that the generations before us have failed us, so the students of today have no choice but to try and make things right.

The climate crisis is also a significant problem faced by young people today that was ironically caused by the generations that came before us. In 2020, thousands of people supported Greta Thunberg at a climate strike in Bristol. Greta told the crowds that the governments were acting like children, so they had to be the ‘adults in the room.’ These words ring true to many young people who see Greta’s resilience and activism as an example to follow.

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One thing appears to be crystal clear in all of this: the students of today feel that they have been failed by the work of previous generations as well as the action of the current governments.

Students are therefore not becoming more or even too moralistic, they are simply doing all they can to create a better society for themselves as well as for the future generations.

Thus it is vital that students continue to protest for what they believe and hope for a day that they will be taken seriously rather than simply being dismissed as snowflakes.

Featured Image: Epigram / Jack Crockford

Do you think University students are too moralistic?