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Letter: Give college students the benefit of the doubt

A frequent target of criticism these days is “cancel culture,” the bull's-eye being college campuses.

On Nov. 5, as a member of the Distinguished Alumni Board of the Virginia Tech English Department, I spent the day on campus. At the luncheon, in a small group, and as a panelist, I spent better than three hours listening to and speaking with undergraduates.

My impression? These are fine young men and women: studious, thoughtful, aspiring. I believe that young people very like them are working their way toward graduation on campuses all over the country.

Let’s show a little more faith in them and be less quick to critique and caricature. They are navigating a complicated and highly nuanced culture, graduating one by one into a world which has been darkened by the pandemic, is riven by argument, stultified by entrenched attitudes and frightened by the specter of climate change.

We may think we know how their minds are being shaped better than they do. Perhaps we are mistaken. Perhaps we should do more listening to them and less preaching about them.

Lawrence Bechtel, Blacksburg

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