I read the essays by Mr. Lafargue in both Williams Magazine (“Welcome to the ‘Real’ World,” spring 2016) and, later, in the Washington Post (March 28, 2016). It was an interesting opinion of criticism to the “coddling” referred to by Mr. Lafargue. However, I think the author is misinterpreting the criticism. Mr. Lafargue states, “The real culprits—on campuses and in the real world—are the persistent effects of homophobia, income inequality, misogyny, poverty, racism, sexism, white supremacy and xenophobia.” On this we agree. However, earlier in the article he states, “The purpose of a college experience isn’t to make students feel as if they’re in a well-insulated bubble.” If that is the case, then I would ask how is isolating people into safe spaces where only one view is tolerated effective at breaking down the “well-insulated bubble”? If we want students to become effective leaders and citizens, we should be advocating for them to confront hurtful or offensive ideas with discussion, discourse and effective argument, not separating them into their own cordoned-off area where different ideas cannot exist. We need to challenge students (and each other) to be able to articulate their ideas and thoughts and teach them how to convince someone to change, instead of yelling over others who have differing thoughts and ideas. If not, we will end up with a society with highly entrenched groups of differing viewpoints that are unwilling to work with each other to solve social and economic problems. (Sound familiar?) I challenge Mr. Lafargue to think about his approach to shaping the future citizens and leaders of our nation. Instead of telling them to toughen up or coddling them, suggest that if they have a different opinion or if they are offended culturally or socially, they should engage that person and effectively articulate their argument on why that person should think or act differently and how their actions were perceived. That is how the real world works.
—Garry Sanders ’02, Redmond, Ore.