Letter: Censorship in education: a slippery slope


Letter writer Britt Jungck says students are losing their autonomy and their chance at success in education. 

Britt Jungck

I am in a unique position as an Iowa State student, an Iowa State instructor and an Iowa State parent. This trifecta allows me to experience the events on campus through a variety of lenses.   

As a parent, I understand the instinct to protect my children. As a working student, I understand the immense pressure to be successful. It can be tempting to stay in a comfort zone while afraid to experience new things and rely on our families to influence our actions.  

But being a successful student requires autonomy, resilience, fortitude and receptivity.  

It is not the job of a school to match the content of its lessons to the individual beliefs of each student. It is the job of students to utilize the information in a manner to match their ideals, morals, goals and interests. This process of ingesting and filtering the information is a vital part of the educational experience, and it helps prepare students for the working world where managing messages from employers is a critical skill. 

I have been a college instructor for 15 years. Until this year, I have never spoken to my adult students’ parents about their classwork. I have rarely heard of my colleagues doing so until very recently.  

There seems to be a trend among high school and college students, of late, to release their autonomy over their educational choices and allow others to speak for their best interests. This sets a dangerous precedent.  

As a young adult, making mistakes and overcoming obstacles is a part of the maturation process. Each time a young person forfeits this rite of passage to a guardian, an opportunity is lost.  

When students cannot accept consequences for their actions, I can be almost certain they will not have a successful, long-term career.  When students cannot follow deadlines, I can be almost certain they will struggle personally and professionally until they master this skill. When students rely on parental intervention in order to know what to think or read or write, I can be almost certain they will never be trusted as a leader.  

The educational climate in Iowa is at a tipping point. The efficacy of higher education is the last thread in a fraying quilt of honor and open access to knowledge. As we watch our parents hurl threats in public school board meetings over books and masks and flags, we need to remember that our system at Iowa State was designed to be different. 

Individual choice is the foundation of public higher education. We must rise to this occasion and protect it. We must use our own voices to challenge ideas we do not accept. We must accept consequences for our own errors. And we who are parents must raise our students to face these tasks on their own.  

We can strengthen the system and be the example for our communities that free will is the bedrock of our field, and especially of Iowa State University.   

Britt K. Jungck is a graduate student in education.