The Trophy Generation Is All Grown Up

Brittany M. Hughes | November 12, 2015

(Photo Credit: The Associated Press)

It started with a trophy.

Hailed by little league coaches and soccer moms everywhere, we called it a “participation trophy.” It was designed to make sure every child who took a swing, risked a shot, and tried their very, very best – well, they got a pat on the back and a gold star and a cookie. And a participation trophy.

And thus the generation of “I exist, therefore I deserve” was born.

Now, it’s 2015. And college campuses are falling apart.

A student at the University of Missouri became famous last week for going on a one-man hunger strike against what he alleged were acts of racism and marginalization across campus. Never mind that Jonathan Butler was the son of a millionaire businessman – white privilege had clearly held him down.

Following suit, other Mizzou students – including black and white members of the football team – lost their collective mind over the perceived toxic air of racism and inequality permeating their academic bubble, claiming that they, too had been the victims of race-fueled hatred and name calling. Students walked out of classrooms. They blocked media – even their own student media – from taking footage of the event, accusing reporters of “not respecting” them.

They called for camera-free “safe spaces” on campus for anyone who felt marginalized, or unheard, or pigeonholed, or had stubbed their toe in the last 24 hours. (Although would-be protestors should be advised that only certain kinds of students may protest, and white male students need not apply. Check your credentials here.)

Mizzou's president resigned amid allegations that he hadn’t done enough about racism on campus, despite having had nothing at all to do with the alleged racist incidents themselves.

They weren’t alone. Students at Ithaca College, Yale and Vanderbilt jumped on the We-Must-Be-Heard bandwagon, calling for resignations en masse from their respective presidents and any faculty member that had ever said anything that ruffled anybody’s feathers, regardless of whether it was intentional. As many as 20 other campuses across the country held marches Thursday, including St. John’s, Syracuse and Columbia universities in New York, Harvard and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Even generally beloved professors aren’t safe from the wrath of the disgruntled. From a Fox News report:

Dale Brigham, who has been described by previous students in glowing terms such as a "sweetheart" and "adorable," had emailed students that he was canceling an exam and quitting his post in response to a backlash from current students upset that he wouldn't delay a test.

Some students were upset that Brigham initially refused to postpone the test amid the wave of protests, which have been mostly peaceful, but have also brought much of ordinary life on campus to a grinding halt. Some students apparently feared coming to class could be dangerous.

Black students at the University of Michigan have now demanded that their administration boost diversity, threatening to take action if their request isn’t fulfilled.

Shortly after the dorm doors blew open and campuses across the Land of the Free erupted with the War on Everything, Twitter exploded with a brand-new hashtag: #MillionStudentMarch.

The higher minds behind this ingenious idea are organizing a large-scale student-led protest against college debt, to be held on Nov. 12. Their demands?

“Tuition-free college, Cancellation of all student debt, and $15 minimum wage for all campus workers!” according to their Twitter profile.

And it’s being led by shining stars like this fine group:

Your trophy generation, ladies and gentlemen.