Colleges Must Do More to Help Students Manage Conflict and Have Civil Debate

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In today’s world, where our country feels more divided than ever, universities have a big role to play in teaching students how to communicate respectfully – for the sake of our campuses and our nation.

The current generation of students is incredibly impressive and resilient, facing challenges like never before. Despite this, they struggle with handling conflicts constructively.

The COVID-19 pandemic made things even harder. Many young people missed out on important social experiences, leading to a lack of skills in dealing with disagreements and advocating for themselves.

Additionally, students today rely heavily on their parents to solve their problems, which can hinder their ability to make decisions independently.

Social media has also played a role, with people feeling comfortable being rude or confrontational online, and algorithms keeping us in bubbles where we only interact with like-minded people.

Unfortunately, some influential figures, including former political leaders, have set a bad example by promoting aggressive behavior rather than encouraging understanding and compromise.

So, what can we do about it?

First, we need to lead by example. Adults should demonstrate civil debate and dialogue, showing students how to express their views while listening to others respectfully.

We also need to empower students to advocate for themselves through training and mediation programs. These programs help students develop communication and conflict resolution skills, which are crucial for living in a diverse society.

Encouraging collaboration around shared interests can also help students break away from their screens and engage with each other in meaningful ways.

Lastly, promoting public service opportunities can bring students from different backgrounds together, helping them focus on common goals and set aside interpersonal conflicts.

As educators, it’s our responsibility to prepare students to be responsible and engaged citizens, especially during times of division. By teaching them how to navigate conflicts with confidence and empathy, we can help bridge the gap and build a more united future.

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