Opinion: Ageism on campus

Carlyle Addy is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected] 

Carlyle Addy

Ageism is something that no one quite knows how to address. On one hand there sits the decade-old customs that, arbitrary as they might be, were put in place for good reasons. On the other rests a predicament: how do we change our thinking habits when it comes to young people who don’t fit our perceptions?

As a 17-year-old in college, this issue is blaringly clear to me, but most people don’t think about it. There’s not much to be done on a broad scale. Ohio allows no emancipation process for minors unless they want to enlist in the military or get married. If you’re not considered a legal adult, that comes with a restrictive set of limits when you get to college.

Getting a job means having to get potential employers to fill out even more paperwork, your student loans are exclusively connected to your parents and, depending on your bank, you might not be able to get a debit card of your own. At Kent, this means your laundry will pile up higher than your homework will.

There are also ramifications when it comes to your classes. It’s illegal to record a minor’s voice without parental permission, even though Ohio has one-party consent laws for recordings. If you have a multimedia project, your partner might not be able to record your voice for narration.

Worse still is if a classmate wants to tape a class. They could be crossing legal boundaries, and it’s only because you’re underage.

If you happen to be in a course that requires research participation, those that are underage aren’t allowed to register, despite being viable candidates for anyone wanting a college student perspective.

Everything you do is blown out of proportion because of your age. If you get an A on your paper, it’s because you’re a “wiz kid” and not because you pulled an all-nighter with your notes. Every person on this campus passed the same admission process that their classmates did.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t recognize it when teenagers do really amazing things. No one thinks Malala Yousafzai is a stereotypical teenage girl. Jessica Ahlquist was just 16 years old when she started to advocate for church-state separation. An 18-year-old named Joshua Wong was the face of China’s Umbrella Revolution.

Stepping outside of the political realm, Christopher Paolini was just 15 when he first drafted “Eragonand countless musicians have gotten their fame from their adolescent years. No one will argue that kids can’t do some absolutely incredible things, but if someone is 17 and you’re 22 and you both get the same grade on the test, you are equally as impressive, not any more or less.

Carlyle Addy is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].