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I’m part of Gen X and maybe we are the reason for crazy college protests

OpinionI’m part of Gen X and maybe we are the reason for crazy college protests

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Watching recent protests and violence on college campuses, one must ask where the adults are in the room. Boards, administrators, faculty, staff and parents all fit the bill. Someone taught these kids this kind of behavior, either actively or by neglect. 

Gen X deserves some scrutiny in all this. 

We are the gappers, the smaller generation between the Boomers and the Millennials. We missed Watergate and Vietnam, but grew up in the booming ’80s and ’90s. Our key historical experiences were Republican presidents, the fall of the Berlin Wall and of course … “Friends.” We found the Internet long before Gen Z got it at their fingertips. And we had the best music, just ask us. 


But while we fought to protect our country after 9/11 and struggled to keep our jobs and houses in the Great Recession, we took our eye off the ball as parents and educators. 

White car, spray paint

A car that attempted to drive through a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters on the Portland State University campus is seen parked and damaged on a campus walkway on Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Portland, Ore. After the driver fled on foot the protesters damaged the car. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Garrison Keillor pegged it in 1985: “All the children are above average!” Gen X pioneered helicopter parenting. We sided with our kids against their teachers, from homework to cheating to discipline. We parachuted in to save them from unhappiness, struggle and the unfairness of life. And we blazed a trail – many teachers I have spoken to agree that overbearing parents are much worse now than they were 30 years ago.  

While we were hovering within reach, we weren’t paying attention to what was being taught in the classroom. It took COVID-19 and “online learning” (such as it was) for many parents to realize that their children were being indoctrinated and not instructed.  


Classic books – not just Shakespeare and “Tom Sawyer” but Newbery and Caldecott winners – are being thrown out the window. American history is taught as nothing but racism, exploitation, tyranny and oppression. Many Gen X parents were blindsided by this because we stopped paying attention. 

The same Gen X parents of the current crop of college students are also their professors and administrators. As school and university leaders, they have bent over backwards to “get with it” and follow every trend in critical race theory, DEI, drag queen story hour, technology in schools, gamification of learning and so much more. 

Worse, many school leaders are now actively training professors, teachers and their students to become social justice activists rather than learners. Never mind your P’s and Q’s, there are other letters you should be marching for. 

What has our failure as Gen X parents and teachers wrought? 


Many of our young adults are living with us now, unprepared by college for real life. Our international ranking for education has remained stagnant for two decades. If Gen Z is lazy, we haven’t held them accountable. Many young people have high anxiety, low self-esteem, undeveloped coping abilities and a sense of entitlement. Our universities are bloated, bureaucratic morasses of elite self-loathing, Marxist-inspired indoctrination and closed minds.  

Generalizations about generations are just that, and Gen X is not entirely “to blame” for our current campus unrest. Instead of blasting Gen Zers for acting as we have taught them, maybe we should take a line from Michael Jackson 1988 hit and start with “The Man in the Mirror.”  


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