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By Casey Bennett

Students attending Brown University are confirming what most of us already know:

Student activists — often dubbed social justice warriors by their critics — are exposing themselves to mental health issues as a direct result of their desire to stamp out perceived injustices against minority classes. Their propensity to remain in a perpetual state of self-imposed victimhood is, unsurprisingly, clearing a path for depression and anxiety to run rampant, plunging students deeper into turmoil.

According to the Brown Daily Herald,

“There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on,” said David, an undergraduate whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity. Throughout the year, he has worked to confront issues of racism and diversity on campus.

His role as a student activist has taken a toll on his mental, physical and emotional health. “My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight. I’m on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills right now. (Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors called me. I had deans calling me to make sure I was okay,” he said.


Justice Gaines ’16, who uses the pronouns xe, xem and xyr, said student activism efforts on campus are necessary. “I don’t feel okay with seeing students go through hardships without helping and organizing to make things better.”

In the wake of The Herald’s opinion pieces, Gaines felt overwhelmed by emotions flooding across campus. Students were called out of class into organizing meetings, and xe felt pressure to help xyr peers cope with what was going on, xe said. Gaines “had a panic attack and couldn’t go to class for several days.”

Activism — the kind where people hold up a sign for 20 minutes and post about it on social media with a trendy hashtag — is crippling students and taking precedence over their academics. It’s fair, therefore, to assume that if one cannot handle academic life without being triggered” by the words and actions of others to the point where they are suffering from severe self-induced mental illness, they will be entirely unable to survive in the world beyond their college campus.

The world is a cruel place; it’s impossible to make it through life without hearing something that offends every fibre of your being. It’s impossible to make it through without your feelings being hurt, without something piquing your anxiety, and without strongly disagreeing with other people’s ideas. Outside the comfort of your campus safe space, there are people who will inevitably trample all over your delicate sensibilities, and most of them won’t care. There will be no counselor to baby you through the sexist joke you overheard your coworker telling, and no place for you in the company should you require time off to address your mental state every time your boss doesn’t use the correct gender pronouns. You will find yourself unemployed and unable to afford anything when you decide activism is more important than being an adult and making smart decisions. 

That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t help people, or care about the plight of others, but when that plight involves hurt feelings over speech you don’t like, and when the consequence is scores of students failing to attend classes because they’re too busy suffering through a panic attack, then things have gone entirely too far.

The prevalence of mental illness will continue to rise among student activists as they insist on convincing themselves they are oppressed, downtrodden, and routinely discriminated against. It will rise until millennials learn how to control their feelings and think objectively. It will rise for as long as there are those who benefit from divisive social politics.

It will rise until they grow up or succeed in creating their Brave New World.

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