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4 Reasons Why Cancel Culture on College Campuses Is Destructive

Aanandi Murlidharan

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For the past 5-6 years, social media has been an integral part of our lives. Through social media, we are able to keep in touch with friends and family, share content, and reach larger audiences much faster. However, as easy as it is to express our opinions on social media, it is just as easy for these opinions to be shamed and criticized on these platforms. 

As a result of posting in the midst of such a judgmental culture, online public shaming has been rising. This idea is known as “cancel culture” and is prevalent on most college campuses in the United States.

While it is important to call out people whose rhetoric is harmful towards others (especially celebrities who profit off of their actions), cancel culture can be extremely destructive when brought to college campuses. Here are four reasons why cancel culture on college campuses is destructive.

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1. Leaves no room for growth

This is arguably one of the most detrimental effects of cancel culture. By “canceling” a person for tweeting an ignorant remark, it also cancels the opportunity for an individual to learn and grow from their mistakes. But how could they not know what they said was wrong? Isn’t that just common sense? No.

Many college students often forget that not everyone received the same kind of education as they did and that we all grew up in different backgrounds. For example: A queer BIPOC woman, who grew up in California, a predominantly blue state, has personal experience with the struggles and microaggressions queer women and BIPOcs face.

Additionally, she has grown up in a more liberal environment making it easier for her to understand the liberal environment of a college campus. However, a straight, white,  cis-gendered man growing up in rural Pennsylvania, a fairly homogeneous area in a red-swinging state, may not be able to understand the daily microaggressions that POCs face.

This is because he has most likely never been exposed to that environment. Therefore, if this man posts a tweet stating that he does not understand “what the big deal is” if a POC is asked, “Where are you really from?”, people should take it as an opportunity to educate him instead of “canceling” him for not being able to understand.

“If we completely cut people down every time they make a mistake or have a mistake from ten years ago, people are gonna feel like there’s no value in learning or progressing whatsoever because you are punished forever for the sins you no longer stand by,” stated Good Place actress, Jameela Jamil, when discussing the negative effects of cancel culture on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

“Ten years ago, I was problematic in my thinking, and there were loads of things I didn’t know and didn’t understand. Had I been canceled at that moment, I would have never gone on to spend all my time fighting for women’s rights or fighting for the people, who are marginalized.”

By canceling someone, you are leaving no room for them to grow from their actions or learn more. You are not only taking away their platform, but also, their ability to learn from their actions. 

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2. Feeds into a herd mentality

A large part of cancel culture is the herd mentality behind the process. As in many situations that involve large-scale decision-making, people often tend to go along with things due to the fact that “everyone is doing it.”

This mentality is also responsible for the immense popularity of certain fashion trends or songs. However, in the context of cancel culture, it has detrimental consequences.

“When cancel culture is enforced, it encourages everyone to gang up against one person just because everyone else is, and sometimes, without knowing the full story,”  described a student of the historically women’s college, Bryn Mawr.

“Our school is especially small and tight-knit so things like these run rampant very quickly. Information can easily be distorted with no question. I have seen this before where people will ‘cancel’ someone just because other people have, but they don’t actually know the background story or anything.” 

Small liberal arts college campuses like Bryn Mawr College are not the only places where this herd-like mentality exists. “There was this kid in my year and nasty rumors about him started floating around and everyone took that story as truth at face value and started ‘canceling’ him without even knowing, or meeting him, myself included,” stated a student from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

“One of my good friends had become really close to him, so I met him as well. One day he opened up to me and told me his side of the story, which was completely different and made it seem like he was the actual victim.  [The fact that] he went through a second ordeal over canceling despite supposedly being the victim in the first place was saddening.”

The student describes how to this day they do not know exactly who was in the right or wrong, but emphasizes that “we never really know people and should not try to assert ourselves or make such strong judgments on their character with limited information.”

3. Does not promote tolerance

The definition of being liberal is to be open to new behavior and try and understand the viewpoints of others. College campuses are considered to be hubs of primarily liberal/ progressive thinking. While it is great that places of education promote progress and non-traditional thinking, it often leads the student body to dismiss and ostracize individuals who are more conservative-leaning.

It feeds the “my way or the highway” mentality that fuels cancel culture. This mentality disregards the need for discussion and respect towards everyone’s beliefs. While there are certain things that are morally incorrect on every front (i.e. sexual assault, homicide, genocide), it is not correct to shut down a person’s opinion simply because it does not match with yours.


An example of this occurred at Bryn Mawr College during the 2016 election. Andi Moritz, an 18-year-old freshman at the time, had asked on a Facebook group if anyone would like to share an Uber to a nearby Trump rally. Bryn Mawr, being a primarily liberal-leaning school, did not take well to this post, leading to a flood of negative comments and name-calling such as “white supremacist” and “bigot”.

These comments caused her extreme emotional distress. Moritz described how she used the Suicide Hotline and emailed her teachers that she was not feeling well and would not be in class the next day. Mortiz eventually ended up leaving Bryn Mawr the next year.

“In this big bubble of people who will echo your opinion, you can throw something out there and if it’s a liberal opinion, you’ve got a ton of people who jump on and say: ‘Wow, you’re right, I agree with you.’ This is a big problem” stated Moritz.

In order for problems to truly go away, we must try to understand another’s perspective instead of “canceling” them. Trump may be an extremely controversial figure, but it is our responsibility to facilitate discussion and make sure we fully understand people’s viewpoints and intentions before publicly shaming them. 

4. Creates animosity and escalated situations

Oftentimes, cancel culture can create extreme animosity within communities and escalate situations beyond repair. On March 4th, Micheal Carducci from the group, ‘Coming Out’ Ministries, was invited to speak at Bryn Mawr College by a student club. The event was marketed by the club as a healthy conversation about love, sexuality, and the church.

After attending the event, many students felt as if the speaker was encouraging conversion therapy, or the idea of “converting” a person in the LGBTQ+ community to a “straight” person. The students of Bryn Mawr took it upon themselves to address the situation by expressing their grievances towards the student who invited the speaker. However, many of these comments turned into vicious comments.

Shortly after this situation occurred, Bryn Mawr’s Dean of the Undergraduate College sent out a statement to the student body saying that the speaker’s message was against the values Bryn Mawr held as an institution, but she “urges all students to be mindful of their rhetoric and how they are using social media” and that “all forms of harassment and bullying violate the Honor Code and the values of Bryn Mawr College.”

In order to preserve the anonymity of the student who invited the speaker, their name and any personal details will not be mentioned. However, Jess Chen, a recent Bryn Mawr alum and friend of the student, was willing to give a statement on the event.

Chen described how many of the people posting comments on social media did not take into account the background and cultural upbringing of the student organizing the event. She also mentioned how many people did not accept the student’s attempt to apologize.

“If you’re angry about the concept, you can be angry at the concept, but when you start attacking a student for inviting someone as a part of an event I think that gets a little ridiculous. The cyberbullying should not escape to the point where she is not safe to go to class,” stated Chen.

Upon doing deeper research on ‘Coming Out Ministries,’ it seems that the organization may encourage some problematic rhetoric. The website links videos such as Lesbian Christian Changes Her Mind, that urge members of the LGBTQIA+ community to abandon and suppress their identities.

The Bryn Mawr student body had a right to feel hurt, but not to cyberbully or personally attack the student organizer. Those who felt hurt could have facilitated an open discussion that made an effort to understand the multiple perspectives on the issue. 

But they said something very hurtful!  How can we just stand by and continue to do nothing? 

The idea behind cancel culture is not toxic in and of itself. Cancel culture was used to prevent celebrities and public figures, who endorsed hateful ideas such as racism, sexism, and homophobia from making profiting off the public.

However, it has morphed into something problematic. People have taken cancel culture to an extreme by applying it to normal people, who are not profiting off of the general public, and are thereby not taking on the responsibilities of a public figure.

Therefore, cancel culture on college campuses should switch to “call out” culture. Call-out culture is respectfully pointing out someone’s misunderstanding, explaining why their words might be hurtful, and giving them an opportunity to rethink their actions and words. Most importantly, it entails others listening to their response and apology. 

“Cancelling means De-Platforming someone and calling for their job and position of power to be taken away; often for the foreseeable future. I rarely support cancellation unless the person/ company, has done irrevocable harm or hurts more people than they help, or refuses to shift on their dangerous/bigoted views, and behavior” stated Jamil in response to the difference between cancel and call-out culture. 

Ultimately, the root of an issue does not go away simply by canceling someone. “I don’t think anyone was ever officially canceled, otherwise certain people wouldn’t have Grammys, wouldn’t have Oscars. Certain people wouldn’t be where they are in their positions,” stated Demi Lovato, someone, who has been canceled many times before on an episode of Jameela Jamil’s Podcast, “I Weigh.” 

In order to make a significant change, it has to be slow, persistent change. It has to come from a place of understanding. Individuals must recognize that canceling does not make the problem go away, but causes it to resurface in another form.

“People seem to think that if our trauma lies in one person and if we cancel one person, then that is easier than actually addressing systemically how this issue is dealt with on-campus,” stated Jess Chen.

“[They] feel some sort of comfort in isolating the issue.” The world is not just black and white. There will always be ambiguity and multiple perspectives on an issue. Canceling should only be used as a last resort when a person refuses to learn and acknowledge their mistake as something hurtful. It is the societal duty of our generation to promote call-out culture and “cancel” cancel culture.

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Is Rate My Professors Worth the Hassle? 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It

Emily Bevacqua

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When it comes to choosing classes, students often turn to Rate My Professors to learn more about which professors and courses to take. However, with lack of accurate information and biased opinions, Rate My Professors isn’t as helpful as students think. 

Class schedules are the bane of a college student’s existence. Creating a perfect one is impossible and picking professors is a gamble. Unless students can see the future, they won’t know if a class is going to be interesting or if the teaching style is going to be boring.

Students have to create backup schedules and sometimes even backups to the backup schedule. It’s unpredictable. The only way to get some insight into the process is by doing research.

There are a couple of ways students can guess at how a class will be. First, universities provide descriptions of courses, and departments post more specific information on their own websites. This usually helps students decide if the material will be interesting and something they want to learn.

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The other way to gain perspective on a class is through other students. Turning to friends who have had the professor or taken the specific course before can be useful. However, with large universities, a friend may not have even heard of the one in question. So, students then turn to the “trusty” old site, Rate My Professors

Rate My Professors is a website where anonymous users post reviews on professors and their courses so that others can gain insight. People have been using this site for over a decade, ranking quality and difficulty of the class on a scale of five with a brief explanation. 

The problem with this site is that it’s really inaccurate. Relying solely on this information is a mistake. Students shouldn’t trust Rate My Professors, and here’s why:

1. Posts are outdated.

Sometimes, users haven’t posted about a professor in years. Julia Keefer from New York University has 6 ratings, the newest from 2010. Similarly, Michael Himes from Boston College hasn’t been rated since 2011.

These professors still teach at the universities yet they are being judged by opinions from ten years ago. Teaching styles, material, and people change over the years. It is inaccurate to trust opinions that are so old.

2.Opinions are the extremes.

When someone posts a review on a restaurant, they either loved it or had the worst dinner of their life. The same goes for Rate My Professors. Alan Fridlund from the University of California Santa Barbara is, as one student puts it, “a divisive professor. Some people love his humor and passion for the subject while others hate his politics.”

His ratings are all over the place. Some give him a 4.0 to 5.0 quality rating while others give him 3.0 or even a 1.0. They say he is a “Very funny guy, [and] makes what he talks about seem very interesting.”

However, a student also said, “I found many things he said to be quite inaccurate in his lectures. His Republican viewpoints often collided with his teachings, and he misinformed so many students.” With drastic viewpoints, Fridlund seems questionable. Which review should potential students for his classes trust?

3.Few ratings give good (or bad) overall reviews.

With any collection of data, the more input, the better the conclusion. Professors can have hundreds of ratings, which provides a more accurate judgment, but they can also have as few as three or less.

Cameron Myler from New York University has one rating, which happens to be a good one. This gives Myler an overall quality of 5.0. However her fellow colleague Jing Yang, also has one rating that gives her an overall quality of 3.0.

4.Professors have no reviews or a page.

Some professors don’t have any reviews at all, as is the case for Lisa Samuel from New York University. There are also times where they do not even have a page on the site, like Elena Kalodner-Martin from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This can make students jump to the conclusion that the professor is new to the school and lacks experience, which can deter them from taking the class.

5.The course isn’t reviewed.

Specific courses oftentimes don’t have any reviews, but the professor is rated on others. Judging them based on a different class is jumping to conclusions. They may teach a 100 level course in a completely different way than an upper-level one.

6.Users don’t provide details.

Students can be lazy. They want to help other college kids, but they don’t want to put in too much effort. Descriptions on Rate My Professors can be very short. For Harold Peterson from Boston College, his three reviews say, “Best professor ever,” one is blank, and, “Very easy. Don’t take anyone else for Principles of Economics.” Judging Peterson based on those few words is unfair.

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If students are going to use Rate My Professors, they have to look beyond the site. They shouldn’t trust these anonymous opinions alone. University websites provide professors’ profiles through faculty directories. This gives more information on their qualifications, accomplishments, and personality.

Students can also ask classmates that they’ve worked with before. Asking others within a major, increases the likelihood that they have taken the course or had the professor. Alternatively, students can post in Facebook groups to see what other peers who’ve recently taken classes with the professor have to say. 

In the end, picking a professor is still a guessing game. Thankfully, the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester allows students to change their mind after attending the class a few times. It’s okay to change a schedule once the semester begins. Students have to be happy with their courses in order to gain the most from them and keep a healthy mind.

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Are Ethical Fashion Brands the Solution for a Better World?

Anna Anderson

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Fast fashion brands have grown in popularity for their low-cost clothing and convenient accessibility online. However, these brands bring about major consequences in the world. From maltreatment of workers to heavy environmental damage. 

First, the workers in the fast fashion industry are often underpaid and overworked. Some are abused and must work in poor conditions, such as overseas. Human beings should not have to undergo this brutal treatment or face such exploitation. Instead, they should be paid fair labor wages for their hard work, time, and efforts.

In addition to this, fast fashion heavily contributes to the pollution of our water. After fast fashion brands manufacture clothes made of synthetic fabrics, consumers buy them and wash them. Every time someone washes these materials, it leads to polyester pollution.

Since the water inside washing machines, which is now contaminated with microfibers from these synthetic fabrics, streams into fresh bodies of water, a large portion of wildlife actually ingest these unhealthy and inorganic fabrics.

Another impact on the environment is excessive waste. These fast fashion companies produce clothing in bulk, leading to more than what is necessary.

If people don’t buy all of the excess inventory, then it goes to waste. The clothing made of synthetic fabrics is incinerated or goes to landfills and never decomposes. 

Lastly, the fashion industry is responsible for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion also uses up 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water every year. All of these factors are destroying the Earth’s ecosystem.

These effects make it important for all of us to do our part in decreasing our consumption of the industry. Thankfully, there are many ways to address the problems above.

First, you can do research on different brands with the help of the internet. You can find out if your go-to stores are actually the perpetrators of workplace abuse and stop shopping there, and research brands that are kind and caring towards their employees. 

With more research, you can also look for organic and vegan brands. Their fabrics, which most likely consist of organic cotton, won’t do as much damage to the Earth. There are hundreds of these stores out there, and with online shopping, it’s easy to buy from them. 

Another environmentally friendly option is shopping at thrift stores. They sell gently used clothing that isn’t ready to be thrown away. If you live in a big city, there are many thrift stores you can visit. There are also online thrift stores such as ThredUP, Poshmark, and Depop.

When thrifting, you can find unique and vintage items that can’t be found elsewhere. This can upgrade your closet significantly. 

In a similar vein, you can rent or borrow clothes online. Apps like My Wardrobe Hq enables people to borrow clothes from each other. An American company called Rent the Runway allows people to use designer clothes for events. These clothing methods lead to less fast fashion consumption and less clothing waste. 

Sometimes, you won’t want an item anymore even if it is still in good quality to wear. Instead of throwing it away, you can give it to someone who wants it. Decrease waste by donating your old clothes to charity or taking them to thrift stores. 

You can decrease water waste by washing your clothes less often. This puts less fibers into the environment and keeps your clothes in better shape. Fewer washes mean less damage to your clothes. It’s also the perfect excuse for less laundry and fewer chores to do. 

All the ways above can be integrated into your lifestyle and shopping habits. The shift doesn’t have to be overnight but can happen in waves. Every action counts and leads toward a better world. We can all do something to decrease our support for fast fashion and shop more sustainably. With these ethical fashion practices, we can make a huge difference.

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How the pandemic will contribute to negative social-emotional development

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During this pandemic, students across the country have lamented their lack of social interactions, missed their friends, and developed new hobbies to fill their days. The assumption has always been that COVID-19 quarantine is temporary.

Soon, students will be back on campus and the social scene they’ve been missing for the past several months will roar back to life. But by the time life does get back to “normal,” they may have missed out on something much more permanent: growing up. 

Usually, when we think of social-emotional development, we think of babies learning to decode facial expressions or to play with other kids their age. But in actuality, we continue to grow and develop emotionally our entire lives, and one of the most pivotal moments in that development is during college.

This kind of development is another perhaps unavoidable casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone, from kindergartners to college students, has been pulled from their development and left stagnant in safe and unchallenging social isolation.

For college-age people, this is the period of your life where you are supposed to finally grow up. You might learn to live alone or make friends independent of your family. But throughout you have an institution that, if it’s doing its job right, provides you with a little safety net should you fail. 

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The social-emotional development college students gain is hard to measure but incredibly important. It helps students thrive in a non-academic setting, fostering healthy relationships and learning to independently manage themselves.

There are few other times in students’ lives where they can learn to build that network of support around themselves, knowing that they still have an institution to fall back on. 

During this pandemic, many students came back home, their fellow students scattering across the country and the world. One consequence of returning to a childhood home is the risk of reverting back to high school years and lifestyles. In college, many students develop their personalities and new responsibilities that may be stripped away upon returning home.

Social worker, Claire Lerner, wrote in Psychology Today that noticeable regression in children during times of stress is very common, particularly in the time of COVID-19 where stress seems to permeate the air. Even as someone who is technically an adult, when students aren’t in an environment that promotes growth, then it’s all the easier to backslide or at the very least, remain stagnant.

And social-emotional development isn’t just a meaningless phrase—it can have real importance both academically and professionally. One famous study in the Journal of Counseling & Development found that emotional growth was a better indicator of students persisting (not dropping out) than just academic success.

Students who are well-adjusted are able to cope with the stress of academics and social situations in college, and presumably, the real world better than students who merely get good grades and test scores. 

According to another study in the Social Innovations Journal, the real value of a college degree is not necessarily just knowledge actively gained, but in the emotional intelligence and maturity achieved.

David Castro and Cynthia Clyde, the authors of the study, wrote that college is really about learning soft skills, not just technical expertise that is often more job-specific. With school going virtual, students are missing out on the opportunity to develop many of the skills they pointed out like, “communication, negotiation, the ability to work in teams and team-building itself.”

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As long as social distancing and isolation continue, students will continue to miss out on deeply important social connections and moments of emotional growth. As more and more universities unveil their plans for fall, it looks like fall will be a new edition of “Zoom school” for students around the country.

The only way for schools to safely reopen is if this virus is stopped in its tracks, and this seems to be quite a challenge for the United States as is has so far, failed to do so. Face-to-face interactions are priceless and an essential part of the college experience. Social distancing is not just about missing your friends—it’s also about losing the chance to transition naturally into adulthood.

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