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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

College kids need challenge, not ‘safety’

Instead of demanding “safe spaces,” young people should be encouraged to seek challenges, writes Andrew Rotherham in U.S. News.

He had a “life-changing” Outward Bound experience at the age of 22.

Now in his 40s, he went river rafting with Outward Bound in Utah. Once again, he learned to “rig to flip” the boat. The six-person boat team learned to work together to get through the rapids.

“When you experience a group of strangers coming together in a short period of time, meeting real challenges, functioning as a team, striving, acting compassionately and living values of service to others, it’s a reminder of the power of education,” writes Rotherham.

Outward Bound Whitewater Rafting Trips

College students should be expected to confront ideas about economics, history or society that make them uncomfortable, he writes.

“Challenging people to become bigger than themselves is at its core an act of respect and love,” Rotherham concludes. “Shielding them from challenge, especially in their most formative years, is fundamentally deeply disrespectful to them and their education.”

Years ago, I went rafting with a group of people I didn’t know very well. We hit a rock that bounced me out of the raft, though I held on to the safety ropes with one hand. I remember thinking, “Gee, I hope I’ve been a good raft mate. Because I really want these folks to pull me back into the boat.” They did, and we managed to get through the rapids without overturning.

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