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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Lonely on campus: Students are siloed, silenced

Afraid to offend each other, college students are "siloed and silenced," creating an epidemic of loneliness on campus, writes Samuel Abrams, a professor of political science at Sarah Lawrence, on RealClearEducation.

Four in 10 college students said they'd felt lonely the previous day, according to a 2023 Gallup poll, he notes.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology has made it harder for students to make friends with those who share similar interests but different "identities," he writes. They're encouraged to focus on their differences, segregate themselves and see unintentional slights as "microaggressions."

His students tell him they find it difficult "to be open and to connect, intellectually and emotionally, with each other," writes Abrams. Students "are constantly on guard, living under the threat of bias reporting hotlines should they deviate from the DEI tribal norms." Firing DEI administrators would improve the campus climate, Abrams writes. "Let students connect, struggle, and learn from differences in shared spaces."

Loneliness threatens the health of college students, warns Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on his “We Are Made to Connect” campus tour, reports Johanna Alonso on Inside Higher Education.

Like so many things, the problem started before pandemic lockdowns and has gotten worse. Some say students find it easier to keep up with old friends on social media than to make new ones.

Destiny Patton, a first-year student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, credits a “speed friend-ing” event — the goal is to find a platonic match -- hosted by two dorms. “The event was packed because people were dealing with the same issue, they just don’t vocalize it,” she told Alonso.

Texas A&M University encouraged students to form groups: There are now "four cupcake-making student organizations,” said Mary Ann Covey, former director of counseling and psychological services.

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